THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP
Lord, I want to be about your work. May my relationship with you energize, direct, and motivate me in all I do.
Read 2 CORINTHIANS 6:3-13
3 We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. 12 We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. 13 As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also.
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ReflectIs your love for Christ and your passion to serve him stronger than when you first believed?
In the final verses of today’s reading (vs 11–13), Paul abandons any pretense of restraint as he pours out his feelings for the Corinthian Christians. It’s as though he is saying, ‘My dear children in Christ, I’m writing to explain how much I love you all, and how I long that you will feel the same.’ In these verses there is a key to unlocking the whole epistle. This renowned theologian, church planter, preacher, writer, missionary and foremost of apostles is a vulnerable human being who – like us – longs to love and be loved!
However, this is not just about Paul’s personal feelings. What he really wants the Corinthians to grasp and experience is the sheer exhilaration of a life abandoned to Christ. He wants them to shake off their petty squabbles and their sad addiction to power. To exchange the bleak landscape of church politics for what he calls elsewhere ‘the freedom and glory of the children of God’ (Romans 8:21). Doesn’t your heart thrill at such a proposed escape?
The recounting of that abandonment is overwhelming as Paul’s words pour out, coming to a climactic conclusion in ‘having nothing, and yet possessing everything’ (v 10). There is a similar out-pouring later in the letter as he describes the cost of discipleship (11:21–29). As I read his words, I am chastened and inspired in equal measure. What about you?
Has your passion for Jesus waned? What can you do to rekindle that love?
Loving Father, it is easy to be distressed when trouble is all around. I ask for grace to look forward with joy to the day when evil and injustice will be gone forever.
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