“I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” – 2 Corinthians 12:15
In the context of this verse, Paul has been talking about how he is ready to spend his literal money in the course of his ministry to the Corinthian church (12:13-14. When he says that he was not a “burden,” the implication is that he did not take the Corinthian’s money but supplied for his own needs). This is the primary intention of the word “spend” here. However, his use of the word translated “and be spent” extends the idea of a literal spending into the realm of “self-giving.” Paul’s point seems to be that not only is he ready to spend—and even exhaust—his money for the sake of the Corinthians well-being in Christ, he is also ready to go further than that and exhaust his entire self in ministry to them.
Though not explicitly mentioned, we ought to see a parallel here between Paul’s love for the Corinthians and Christ’s love for the Church. Paul’s ministry model is cruciform in the sense that it is grounded in, fueled by, and unto the manifestation of the crucified and risen Christ. He has seen the glory of His God in the face of the crucified Lord (2 Cor.4:6), and His ministry is an extension of this same glory, of this same love, into the lives of others (1 Corinthians 11:1). Just as his Lord fully exhausted Himself for the sake of Paul’s soul (Galatians 2:20), so now Paul—leaning on the resurrection power of the risen Christ (2 Corinthians 13:4) is ready to exhaust himself—even to the point of death—for the sake of the Corinthians.
So, in this image, the self-outpouring love of the crucified Lord is pictured at the top of the image. Christ’s spending of Himself then pours down over Paul and, in turn, calls forth the same sort of love from Paul for others.
May we be granted to see the all-satisfying Beauty of our God in the self-spending of our Lord on the cross….and, seeing this, may we image the same sort of love in our lives, spending our selves by grace to the glory of the Father in His slain and risen Son.