Lord, help me to run the race, to fight the fight, to finish the course, all to Your glory.
Read 2 CORINTHIANS 6:3-13
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“If you are looking for an easy ministry in a post-Christian culture, where Christians are a minority, you are unrealistic. It was not so in Jeremiah’s day and it won’t be in ours” (Francis Schaeffer).
Of all the Old Testament prophets, Jeremiah is the one whose interior struggles are most visible. It is in his letters to Corinth that Paul reveals most about his innermost heart. In 2 Corinthians (especially chs. 10-13) we feel most sharply the hostility of those who questioned his authority and credentials with reproaches and slanders: he was a weakling (10:1), irresolute (1:17), his personal presence was ineffective (10:10); he was arrogant, devious (4:2) and unscrupulous (12:16). Paul himself, like Jeremiah, felt his own weaknesses—despite near-heaven experiences he struggled with a “thorn in the flesh” which God would not remove. In 2 Corinthians 5 he expounded again the heart of his good news—God’s reconciling work through Christ’s redeeming death—and urged the Corinthians to respond to it.
In today’s passage Paul is passionate in removing any stumbling blocks which might hinder his listeners/readers (3) and he opens his heart to the Corinthians in the hope that they would reciprocate (12,13; 7:2). In vs. 5-10 he gives 27 examples of his all-round, all-the-time steadiness in ministry. Read this catalog quietly several times, allowing the images to reverberate in your heart. In vs. 4 and 5 Paul mentions nine circumstances. In vs. 6 and 7 he mentions nine Christian qualities, qualified by “with,” “by” or “in.” In vs. 8-10, nine experiences are expressed by paired phrases. The central quality in this whole list is “in the Holy Spirit.” Paul’s words have special aptness for ministers and missionaries (who does that exclude?); I use them to calibrate my own track record. Do I have the same persistence, integrity, willingness for sacrifice and open-heartedness as Paul?
Review the nine Christian qualities in vs. 6 and 7. In which do you need most to grow? Ask God for the help you need to be persistent in growing in them.
Lord, I pray for insight and sustenance, courage and strength to persist in growing toward Christ and live with the integrity and sacrificial spirit that honors You.
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