“And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you.” (2 Corinthians 9:14, KJV)
We do have some strange practices in this life. One of them is in the giving of a gift. We will take a gift and put it in a container of some sort. Then we will wrap it with some decorative paper and a bow. The pe5rson who receives the gift has no idea regarding what is inside. At Christmas time, we exchange gifts. Neither the giver or the recipient has any idea of what they have in the box. Up to that point it was a secret. Then the gifts are opened and both will see what is inside.
Sometimes people give gifts out of obligation. This is unfortunate since something is missing in the giving. Obligatory gifts are given for a variety of reasons. Consider a Christmas gift. At times it seems so routine, a mechanical exercise. The missing ingredient can be the heart. There can be a lack of compassion or love in the gift. In this way the exchange of gifts can lose its meaning.
The church at Corinth was giving a financial gift to the Jerusalem saints. There were many blessings that the giver would receive from giving this gift. They would receive the blessing of knowing that through their giving, God would be glorified by both their actions and the thankfulness of the recipients. They would understand that their gift would have an eternal perspective. There would be treasure stored up in heaven.
Yet there is another somewhat obscured blessing. One that perhaps they may not have considered unless Paul wrote of it. Their giving of the financial gift would result in an unseen gift exchange. In response to their gift, something in the hearts of the recipient would respond. Paul wrote that there would be a longing for the church that gave. The word “long,” epipothounton, means to dote upon (Strong G1971). In this context, to dote upon refers to the recipients’ heartfelt demonstration of excessive fondness or affection to those giving. However, their expression of fondness would not come in a gift exchange of the same kind as that which they received.
How would this gift exchange work? What could these poor saints in Jerusalem ever give to those benefactors who blessed them so much? They had something to give of tremendous value. They would present heartfelt prayers for those who contributed in their time of need. We often underestimate the value of the intercessory prayer of others in our lives.
It is unfortunate that we live in such a materialistic world. We see the temporal and not the eternal. We do not value things properly. We value our cash more than the value of what prayer can accomplish. Those that had little could accomplish much more through prayer than they could through all the money they could imagine. Yes, the gift that those who contributed received in return would have the infinite value of heaven.
We who have abundance and give must remember that those believers who have little and receive will give back in many ways. They will do this through their longing for us and their intercession that connects with God on our behalf.