Thursday, January 4

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

6 As we work together with him,[a] we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says,

“At an acceptable time I have listened to you,
    and on a day of salvation I have helped you.”

See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! 3 We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, 7 truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Reflection

Today’s reading comes from a letter St. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. Although Paul had started the Corinthian church and visited them twice, there were other preachers and teachers there who found fault with Paul’s ministry. In reply, Paul asserts that we (the “we” would have been Paul and his fellow worker, Timothy) “have commended ourselves in every way” (6:4) as servants of the Lord would do. He lists the hardships and difficulties he and Timothy experienced. It must have been hard for Paul, but he served them well. He begged them not to accept the grace of God in vain. We don’t know exactly what was going on that upset Paul so, but it seems like they didn’t live their lives like people who truly understood the depth of God’s forgiveness. They accepted God’s grace and forgiveness, but didn’t try to live their lives as followers of Jesus. It’s interesting that as much as Paul writes in such a riled-up way, he isn’t lashing out at them; he only defends himself and his ministry. He doesn’t call out or challenge whoever was criticizing his ministry; he only reminds them that God’s grace calls for a response. Had I been in Paul’s shoes, I probably would have scolded the Corinthians more harshly. I’d have criticized those who disapproved of my ministry. Or, I’m ashamed to say, I might have just written them off and found people who would listen to my way of thinking. Having accepted the grace of God myself, I would be a better servant of God if I could respond like Paul, just reminding them of what I had done, and more importantly, what God in Christ Jesus has done for them.

Prayer

O Lord, you call us to make disciples and grow in relationship to you and our neighbors. Give us wisdom and words as we witness to you, that we would know what to say and what not to say. Give us direction and actions as we serve your people, that we would know what to do and what not to do. In Jesus, Amen.

Written by Pastor Pam Mitcham—Pastor of Community Care pmitcham@stjohns-springfield.org