Father, many pulsing messages press in on me every day. Enable me to tune in to your frequency and hear your voice.
Read 2 CORINTHIANS 13
13 This will be my third visit to you. “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”[a] 2 I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, 3 since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. 4 For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him in our dealing with you.
5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? 6 And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. 7 Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong—not so that people will see that we have stood the test but so that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. 8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. 9 We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is that you may be fully restored. 10 This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.
11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All God’s people here send their greetings.
14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
- 2 Corinthians 13:1 Deut. 19:15
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
At the end of this letter, identify what in particular has struck you and what you will take away from it.
Having been impressively tender, Paul now shows himself to be tough, still concerned that there might be a willfully sinful minority disrupting the church (v 2).1 He is prepared to face up to them; indeed he has authority from Christ to do so (v 10). He is reluctant to be harsh but will not shirk his duty. To hold to the truth in word and deed is his watchword (v 8), and a good one. To this end, he requires all to ‘Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves’ (v 5). This is a good thing to do every time we receive communion,2 but not just then. Are we living in ways that are consistent with the faith we profess, with the Christ who is within us? Or are we deceiving ourselves?
It is entirely right that every church should be an inclusive community that welcomes people of all kinds to find life in Christ. Much depends on this if we are to fulfill the purposes of God. But it is also right to ask what we are prepared to exclude. Whereas we welcome all manner of people we do not embrace all manner of behavior.3 There is a call to repentance and newness of life if we are to be of the truth. The weakness to which Paul refers in verse 4 is not moral weakness but suffering.
The full restoration that Paul hopes for is not only one where the breech with himself is overcome, but one in which the church community is marked by rejoicing, encouragement, unity of mind and peaceful friendships (v 11). This becomes a possibility for all of us when we participate truly in the grace, love, and fellowship that are ours in the God who is Father, Son, and Spirit.
‘There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.’4
Holy Lord, help me to run the race, to fight the fight, to finish the course, all to your glory.
1 See also 2 Cor 12:21 2 1 Cor 11:28 3 2 Cor 12:20,21 4 Gal 3:28
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2023 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.