I give you my opinion in this matter: this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to take action [to help the believers in Jerusalem], but also [the first] to desire to do it.
[It is then] my counsel and my opinion in this matter that I give [you when I say]: It is profitable and fitting for you [now to complete the enterprise] which more than a year ago you not only began, but were the first to wish to do anything [about contributions for the relief of the saints at Jerusalem].
Here is my opinion in the matter. I think it would be a good thing for you, who were the first a year ago to think of helping, as well as the first to give, to carry through what you then intended to do. Finish it, then, as well as you can, and show that you can complete what you set out to do with as much efficiency as you showed readiness to begin. After all, the important thing is to be willing to give as much as we can—that is what God accepts, and no one is asked to give what he has not got. Of course, I don’t mean that others should be relieved to an extent that leaves you in distress. It is a matter of share and share alike. At present your plenty should supply their need, and then at some future date their plenty may supply your need. In that way we share with each other, as the scripture says, ‘He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack’.
So here’s what I think: The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale. Your heart’s been in the right place all along. You’ve got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it. Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can’t. The heart regulates the hands. This isn’t so others can take it easy while you sweat it out. No, you’re shoulder to shoulder with them all the way, your surplus matching their deficit, their surplus matching your deficit. In the end you come out even. As it is written, Nothing left over to the one with the most, Nothing lacking to the one with the least. I thank God for giving Titus the same devoted concern for you that I have. He was most considerate of how we felt, but his eagerness to go to you and help out with this relief offering is his own idea. We’re sending a companion along with him, someone very popular in the churches for his preaching of the Message. But there’s far more to him than popularity. He’s rock-solid trustworthy. The churches handpicked him to go with us as we travel about doing this work of sharing God’s gifts to honor God as well as we can, taking every precaution against scandal.
Listen, it’s been a year since we called your attention to this opportunity to demonstrate God’s grace, so here’s my advice: pull together your resources and finish what you started. Remember how excited you were at first; it’s time to complete this task in the same spirit.
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