2 Corinthians 6

2 Corinthians 6 contains Paul’s words about their ministry. He appeals to the church at Corinth “not to receive the grace of God in vain”. What does Paul mean here? That God’s grace – his forgiveness and salvation through Jesus – ought to change us. We should not remain the same. It should rock our world. Jesus did not go to the Cross as a small token – He gave Himself completely to totally transform our lives. He died that we could experience fullness of life and live victoriously. Sometimes Christ Followers miss that and act like they are still under the bondage of sin.

Paul goes on to explain the struggles he and his band of followers have dealt with by “great endurance”. Those words are important because it is something God wants from each of us as Christ Followers – to endure – be steadfast – keep on pursuing Him. Paul lists their struggles as:
– “afflictions
– Hardships
– Calamities
– 5 beatings
– Imprisonments
– Riots
– labors
– sleepless nights
– hunger”

Who said that serving God would be easy. Paul’s list certainly shows it is not – in fact anything but easy. But he also reveals the secret to how they were able to endure. He lists the key characteristics they clung to. Check out his list;
– “purity
– knowledge
– patience
– kindness
– the Holy Spirit
– genuine love
– truthful speech
– the power of God
– the weapons of righteousness”

Quite a contrast between those two lists. But Paul gives us yet another list – this time the contrast between the way they were treated. He shares the truth about how their ministry was viewed and responded to – and there are some difficult responses they had to deal with. Check out the list of how they were treated:
– “honor and dishonor
– slander and praise
– 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”

What dedication Paul and his ministry partners had to have – resolve to stand firm and stay focused in spite of the challenges that life brought. But Paul delivers some strong words as he wraps up the chapter that can be difficult for us to hear: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers….what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever….separate from them”. Often this section is used in light of marriage – that a Christian should not marry someone who is not a believer in Jesus. But I think it is more sweeping than that – we should consider it in all key relationships – business partnerships – close friendships – any relationship that is deep and ongoing. Does that mean a couple that has been married outside this guidance should be ended? Absolutely not. God never intended these words to be relationship or covenant ending words. But they are given for our consideration before we enter into relationships. It can keep us from some of the heartaches and struggles that will come if we become unequally yoked. We can’t serve two masters. Neither can our relationships. Ponder and keep this in mind before you enter your next one!

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