"We do not exceed our duty when we embrace your interests, for it was our preaching of the Gospel which brought us into contact with you. Our pride is not in matters beyond our proper sphere nor in the labours of other men. No, our hope is that your growing faith will mean the expansion of our sphere of action, so that before long we shall be preaching the Gospel in districts beyond you, instead of being proud of work that has already been done in someone else’s province. But, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord’. It is not self-commendation that matters, it is winning the approval of God." 2 Corinthians 10:15-18
The word for “sphere” (or “measure” or “rule” in other translations), in the Greek, is kanona. It means “a straight rod, a weaver’s rod (to which the threads of a tapestry’s warp were attached), a mason’s line, a rule, a standard, a limit, a boundary.” And, interestingly, etymologically, it’s also the exact word from which our English word, “canon,” as in “the canon of scripture,” comes.
My friends, knowing Jesus, following Jesus, the call He has for you today is the call He has for you. The “straight, narrow way” is the straight rod for your measure. He is the weaver’s rod for your life, forming a tapestry of relationships and circumstances that are only fully known to Him. He is the rule, standard, limit, and boundary for your day today; He is the One forming the canon of your earthly life.
So… will you follow Him today? Will you let Him love the world, to the ends of yourself?
This is what He has for your life!
This is the best version of you that’s imaginable!
On the eve of the Battle of Cannae (ca. 216 BC) after the Roman general, Varro, had set out his lines:
"Hannibal ordered his forces to arm for battle, while he himself, with a few companions, rode to the top of a gently sloping ridge, from which he watched his enemies as they formed in battle array. When one of his companions, named Gisco, a man of his own rank, remarked that the number of the enemy amazed him, Hannibal put on a serious look and said: 'Gisco, another thing has escaped your notice which is more amazing still.' And when Gisco asked what it was, 'It is the fact,' said he, 'that in all this multitude there is no one who is called Gisco.' The jest took them all by surprise and set them laughing, and as they made their way down from the ridge, they reported the pleasantry to all who met them, so that great numbers were laughing heartily, and Hannibal's escort could not even recover themselves. The sight of this infused courage into the Carthaginians. They reasoned that their general must have a mighty contempt for the enemy if he laughed and jested so in the presence of danger."
Plutarch, The Lives
At the start of this workweek, do you realize that Jesus, looking out across the world and its waywardness, all its fear and uncertainty, is absolutely delighted that you are part of what He's up to? That you have a part in what He's planning to do? That you, along with Him, can laugh in the face of sin, death and the enemy?
You, my friend, are His favorite Gisco for the sake of the Gospel!
Do you remember the generosity of Jesus Christ, the Lord of us all? He was rich beyond our telling, yet he became poor for your sakes so that his poverty might make you rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
This is a take on Jesus' life and ministry that is never offered before and never offered again in the whole of the New Testament: that, having always been God, having always been the Ruler on the throne of Heaven, He was incalculably "rich" with riches that are inestimable according to our earthly weights and measures. Think about it. When John later tries to describe the glories of the New Heaven, New Earth, New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation, the best he can generally do to describe all its grandeur and richness is to say, "It's like this" and "like that," where he substitutes in all the finest things human minds can understand.
We cannot understand how glorious Jesus was before!
And He left all that--
He stepped down from the throne of glory, was born into the midst of vicious Roman rule, became a refugee to escape from murderous King Herod, and then lived three decades in a town of, perhaps, a couple hundred peasants.
All - don't forget! - that He might, then, minister for three years, die to set us free, and ascend to bring us - spiritual peasants that we are - into that very throne room in which this whole plan was hatched.
Today, will we remember the generosity of Jesus, the Lord of us all? He was literally rich beyond our literal telling or understanding, yet he actually became poor for our actual sakes so that his literal poverty might make us actually, spiritually rich!
Will you remember?