Summary: There are three questions each Christian should ask themselves when it comes to deciding just how far to go in serving the Lord. They are not easy questions, but your answers will reveal much about yourself. In 2 Corinthians 6, Paul gives us a clear choic
Answer this question for yourself: “I feel good about my life when …” In a way, the Apostle Paul could be asking the Corinthians to consider this question when they judge him. If you answer the question: “I feel best when external circumstances are not difficult and when others validate me” – then you would be pretty much right where the Corinthians were. But Paul offers a different perspective on how to evaluate his ministry, and I think it offers us a different perspective to look at if indeed we desire to be more dynamic and effective in our ministry for the Lord.
In this chapter I want to ask you to consider three questions:
Are you willing to appear as a fool in order to be used more effectively by the Lord?
Who is the main author of the book of your life?
Are you willing to be differentiated from the world in order to be used more effectively by the Lord?
In the continuing arguments against the Judaizers who had infiltrated Corinth, Paul encourages the Corinthians to fully and freely receive God’s reconciling work on the cross—even if that means going through hardship and turmoil, and to embrace his work as their spiritual father—acknowledging his love and sacrifice for them, and encouraging them to let go of the worldly, fleshly values that the false teachers brought with them.
It’s a tricky subject that have led some to fully get lost in the world and others to cloister themselves completely from all contact—neither of which are correct.
1 – 2
The first thing that Paul seems to be saying is “listen up, Corinthians—God’s grace through the cross is important—so stop fooling around with mixing worldly values with godly ones!” The word “appeal” or “urge” was a word used by an authority figure as a command, yet one delivered diplomatically. By trying to earn God’s favor through external obedience, and by using worldly external impressiveness as a gauge of success, they were making a mockery of God’s grace—which is unmerited favor.
He quotes Isaiah 48 . The Jews knew that God would one day show His favor. Paul tells them that this is the day—that the coming of Jesus Christ is God’s acceptable time and today is the day of salvation.
If we are waiting for a better sale on salvation, there isn’t going to be one. The day of salvation is here until the ad expires and God will no longer offer it. You don’t know when your life will end so don’t squander another minute existing outside of God’s love. There are no rain checks in the next age.
Next, Paul turns to the first of the three questions: Are you willing to appear as a fool in order to be used more effectively by the Lord?
3 – 10
Paul did not want his actions to in anyway distract from the gospel. Oh, if only we were to take that into consideration when we spoke or acted. Paul lists the character of his life and ministry—probably a much different list than the false teachers presented.
Verse 5 presents his physical circumstances—difficult to say the least.
In verse 6 he presents the transformation of his character into the image of Christ.
Verse 7 presents how the Holy Spirit works outwardly from his life.
In verse 8 are the results of those actions externally—for those who are perishing the reaction was dishonor and accusations of being a deceiver. For those who responded to the gospel message it was glory and a good report.
Verses 9 and 10 contain how the package is viewed: though Paul was well known, the cool and wise of this age could care less. These same would chasten Paul but not deter him. His grief was real when the flesh and this age prevailed, yet he rejoiced in the ultimate victory of the Lord. He gave up so much in this age (“poor”) yet gave such riches to those around him who accepted the gospel in the age to come. He might appear to have nothing—no success, no impressiveness, yet in reality he possessed everything because he had the key to life—the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now let me contrast that with what the Judaizers presented to the Corinthians:
Influential Pedigree (man’s favor is all that really matters)
Incredible skills (It’s all about the presentation—style over substance)
Impressive appearance (to look good is to be good)
Pleasing doctrine (earn favor by obedience, a hard life means a bad life)
So contrast that with how Paul’s life came across—always in trouble, always getting picked on, never standing up for himself, never taking credit for anything, always looking back to Jesus. Now honestly, if you were applying for a job as an ambassador for Christ and saw two different job descriptions, which one would you choose? A life of ease, indulging the flesh, getting honor by others—or the kind of life Paul lived? Seriously, do we really want to be that kind of ambassador? Honestly I think we kind of like the Judaizers job description better, don’t we?