Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything. We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.
Summary – Paul continues his explanation of the apostolic ministry. Their goal is to make no obstacles for people to accept the Gospel, by their absorption of any possible persecution, which Paul lists out in verse 5. But also, vs 6, their faithful and fruitful working. These lists commingle in the following verses. But his final point in the section is that though they seem to be downtrodden and afflicted in every way, really the opposite is true. They possess everything, because of their eternal hope in Christ. The Corinthians are exhorted to expand their affections to encompass a full-orbed love and devotion to Christ.
Insight – Do you ever feel like there are times in your relationship with God that things are going all wrong? Many people feel this way and, a lot of times, these periods are ones where we feel “distant” from God. But we should be given hope by this, that even Paul and the apostles went through difficulties: they were beaten, hungry, slandered, and on and on–things we don’t even experience to the same degree–and yet they realized that these things could be dealt with through purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, etc. Basically the “Fruit of the Spirit.” Moreover they knew that since they knew the Truth, they were richer than anyone else. In times when we feel that things are going all wrong, remember not to pull away from God, but rather to press in through the full “Armor of God.” Even though in the world’s eyes we may be disgraced, God’s eyes (the ones that count) see it differently.
Child Catechism – Who gives you the strength to overcome hard times? The Holy Spirit working in my life.
Discussion – What is the relationship between the Apostles’ persecution and ours (how are they similar and yet different)?
Prayer – Father thank you that you have given us your Son and your Spirit to redeem us and to live through us. Give us strength to obey and to look to you even through tough times. Amen.