I got your back, do you have mine? In middle school and high school, that was a phrase I would always hear kids saying to each other. (I wonder if we really knew what we were saying back then.) To tell someone you had their back, showed how close you two were; it was a sign of endearment and a close bond. So, no matter what you would face, good or bad, if someone had your back, that meant they would be there for you when you needed them without you even having to ask.
Do We Have Each Other’s Back?
Keep that thought in mind that I just shared with you as we work our way through this message. It was Independence Day yesterday, and all weekend, people have gathered together to celebrate this nation. This is a nation that prides itself on freedom and justice for all. Yet, the fight for freedom and justice for all is still being pursued with great fever in this nation. I feel I must ask the question, do we, as a nation of people, truly have each other’s back?
Over the last four months, I have sat and watched everything that has transpired. (I don’t believe I am alone on this because several of you, like me, have probably sat and watched everything too.) We watched as COVID-19 crisis made its way into our nation and swept over the land. Many of us had each other’s back and sheltered in place, but others chose to protest sheltering in place. We then watched killings in cold blood; watched as protests ensued for justice; now we watch again as COVID-19 surges in our nation.
Do we truly have each other’s backs? What do you think? Some may quickly answer yes, but, again, I ask, do we truly have each other’s back. Really think about this for a moment before you quickly respond. You see, if you think about this for a moment, I think your answer would probably be, “it depends”.
The backs we have
If we are being honest with ourselves, it depends on quite a bit before we actually choose to have someone’s back. What do I mean by that? Well, for example: If somebody looks like we do, there is a chance we will have their back before we have the back of someone that does not look as we do. Another example: if we are friends or family, there is a good chance we will have each other’s back before we have the back of someone who is not a friend or family.
The stranger’s back is not one we will have right away. Why? Because we don’t know anything about the stranger to have their back. We will not have the back of someone who may end up trying to stab us in our own back, will we? Certainly not! We also will not have the backs of those who are not like us or don’t agree with us.
So, it would seem that the answer to my question boils down to whether or not someone is within our ‘bubble’ of who we associate with as to whether or not we have their back. And we wonder why there is so little progress in our society. Some people like it that way, but I tell you that God made us for growth and progress. The only way we can grow and progress is if we learn to truly have each other’s back! What does it take to truly have each other’s back?
Grace For Each Other
Let’s look at this thought by taking a look at my key verse for today’s sermon. (Read from 2 Corinthians 8:1-14 – read that entire passage of scripture.) My key verse is 2 Corinthians 8:7, which says:
I want you to pay close attention to what that verse says at the very end – it was a challenge that was being given. Paul, our writer of this letter to the Corinthians, says to them, “see that you abound in this grace also.” Keyword: grace. Why was Paul challenging them to abound in grace? I will show you that in a moment, but first we need to understand specifically the kind of grace that is being spoken of.
Is it the kind that some people are able to walk with – the elegant and smooth walk that is light as a feather? Or, maybe it is the kind of grace that some people can speak with – properly and charmingly. Now, as often as you have heard me preach, you should know how scripture defines grace for us. Grace: the unmerited love that God has for us (mankind).
However, I would tell you that there are times I feel that this definition undersells grace – it is far too simple. The reason I feel it is too simple is because that definition assumes we know what love actually is. The problem is that we don’t truly know what love is! Our thoughts towards love – what it is and what it looks like – is misconstrued. Because our thoughts towards what love is so misconstrued, we fall short of understanding the magnitude of grace. To understand grace and its significance, we must turn to God and take a look at His grace towards us.
We see God’s grace in scripture when we are told that He loved the world and gave us His only begotten Son so that we do not perish (spiritually) to sin but live eternally (John 3:16). That scripture is quoted a lot, but again, what we often do not pay much attention to is God’s grace in that scripture.
God’s grace in that scripture was Him giving of Himself to give the world His only begotten Son. To show you just how deep that is: have you ever wondered why God would give His only begotten Son for mankind in the first place? We would quickly answer, “so that we can have everlasting life”. Look deeper into that scripture!
God gave His only begotten Son to us for our own betterment. Think of where mankind was without Christ – we were deep in sin; a complete and filthy mess of a person. Consider where mankind was going without Christ – we would have ultimately been separated from God for all of eternity and perished to sin. Yet, God had mankind’s back through His grace – His love – for us! He gave of Himself so that we could one day take on His glory and be in the full image of His likeness – holy just as He is holy!
Grace still shown to us
To this day, God continues to give of Himself to us. James wrote that the Lord gives to all liberally and without reproach, if they ask (James 1:5). God, I want you to understand, gives of His gifts – He’s not poor and He does not have to go to some other god for assistance or to borrow from! God gives of Himself to us many different gifts as scripture has shown us (1 Cor. 12:4-7; James 1:17). He is also our provider of all things and our protector from all harm.
So, if I were to define grace for you, I would have to use God as the example for grace. The Lord is very passionate in His love towards us; He moves passionately for the betterment of who you are. So, the question I would ask you today is, do you move with the same manner of grace in having the backs of those around you? (Not just your small bubble of who you associate with, but all people.)
An example for mankind’s grace
Let’s take a look at why Paul was writing about grace in my key verse. In the very first verse of this chapter, Paul begins talking about the churches of Macedonia. (Macedonia and Corinth were both in Greece, separated by about 178 miles. Macedonia was to the north of Corinth.) Paul wanted to share with the Cornithians the grace that God had bestowed to the churches of Macedonia because it was absolutely beautiful.
Scripture tells us a bit of information about the people that made up the churches of Macedonia which I believe to be very significant for us. The first thing we are told: these people were greatly afflicted when Paul visited them (2 Cor. 8:2). I cannot tell you what their affliction may have been, but Paul does tell us about something else. So, the second thing we are told: that they were deep in poverty (2 Cor. 8:2) – meaning they did not have much.
The churches of Macedonia
Now the people of Corinth were the complete opposite. Paul tells us in our key verse that the Corinthians were abundant in everything. He even mentions this great abundance again later on in this same chapter (2 Cor. 8:13-14). So, we are seeing two different types of people in this passage of scripture.
Paul tells us that even though the people of Macedonia were afflicted, they had an abundance of joy. So, even though they were going through tough times, they still had joy! He then tells us that even though the people of Macedonia were deep in poverty, that the deep poverty abounded in the “riches” of their liberality (their giving). So, they did not have much to give but they still chose to give liberally!
Paul said in the following two verses (2 Cor. 8:3-4), “For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.” So, these people that were going through struggles of their own and did not have much, were still freely and joyously giving in their grace!
Follow that example
Why were they this way? Well, they were genuine in the faith of Christ! You see, when the Lord enters your heart, this sort of grace – His grace towards us – enters into our hearts too. To understand what they were giving too, we must take a look at Paul’s letter to the Romans. Paul was collecting an offering to take back with him to the poor saints that made up the church in Jerusalem (Rom. 15:26). So, they Macedonians had the backs of people they may have not even known or had much in common with culturally – they gave anyway!
In our key verse, Paul challenges the Corinthians to be abundant in that same manner of grace. They were already abundant in everything else! Paul wrote, “you have an abundance in everything – great faith; much preaching and teaching; much knowledge and diligence; much love for Paul and the other apostles and ministers.” Now he asks them to abound in the same grace of the Macedonians – which is the grace of God.
A Show of Genuine Grace
I feel that this type of grace is something we need badly in our society, right now! Giving out of this grace and doing so genuinely! Paul even tells them he was testing the sincerity of their love (2 Cor. 8:8). Sincerity: marked by genuineness. To tie this in with my thought for today’s sermon, to truly have someone’s back you have to do so out of the grace of your heart. To genuinely have someone’s back, you must do so sincerely.
This sort of sincerity is something I wonder about often when it comes to our world today, especially in our nation and society. Has a test of the sincerity of our love been laid out before us? Are we passing or failing that test? Quite frankly, there is a nastiness that we see in our nation and society. We tear at each other’s back instead of actually having each other’s back.
Cheerful in having each other’s back
Yes, this passage of scripture revolved around their giving financially, and our train of thought often goes to giving financially when we hear of giving. It is certainly good to give or have someone’s back financially, but as you have often heard me say, let us not limit ourselves to our pockets. We are more than our pockets, we are more than our bank accounts. If we are more than those things, then I believe our giving can be done in more ways than one.
We should have the backs of each other instead of always fighting each other. When one says they see something that is not right, have their back instead of saying what they are seeing is not real. When one says they have been wronged, have their back and try to correct the wrong if possible. When one says they have been mistreated, have their back instead of continuing the mistreatment just because you are doing well. If someone holds their hand out for help, have their back and grab a hold instead of ignoring a held out hand.
We have people around us who are in need, we should say to them, I got your back, what can I do for you? There are some around us who are stepping out on faith in a new venture, we should say to them, I got your back, how can I support you? We are living in a time where we should not be waiting for people to be killed or go missing before we have their backs!
In this nation that preaches freedom and justice, in our society, let us sincerely move in a direction where all backs are gotten and taken care of! This starts within the hearts of every last one of us. Let us be abundant in our spirit, abundant in our faith, and abundant in our joy to have our neighbor’s back! Let us grow in our grace for each other, as God made us to be. Let us be this way towards each other sincerely.