Pain. The one thing we avoid most in life. Whether, it is emotional, mental, physical, or spiritual, no one likes it and no one goes looking for it. But Paul tells us here in II Corinthians seven that pain and sorrow have a restorative purpose in our lives. Let’s take a look at what he’s talking about.
“As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
~II Corinthians 7:9-10
The first century Roman Empire wasn’t exactly open to the gospel or those who shared it. In fact, in most cases people were downright hostile towards those bearing the good news. This was especially true throughout Paul’s life. He faced numerous trials and hardships as an apostle and evangelist. While for the most part he was able to remain positive and keep his eyes fixed on the eternal goal, there were times that his spirit was brought low and his outlook wasn’t so cheerful. This was the case while he was in Macedonia on his third missionary journey. But God had some good news in store for Paul. So let’s see how God lifts Paul’s spirit and comforts his heart.
No one likes discipline. And much less, the one who is executing the discipline. However, as we learned earlier in “The Love of Discipline”, the fact that someone is taking the time and effort to correct our wrongs is a sign of love. If they didn’t deeply care for us, they wouldn’t go to the discomfort and effort. Therefore, we should not only be grateful for discipline in our lives, but we should also open our hearts to the one implementing that discipline.
This is easier said than done.
Spring is in the air. Where I live, the daffodils and tulips are in full bloom, the sparrows and swallows are returning from their winter away, young lambs are frolicking in green pastures, and new calves are teetering beside their protective mothers. The air is filled with the sights and sounds of life, and everywhere I turn there are reminders that spring is here.
With the arrival of warmer days and longer periods of daylight comes the urge to spring clean. Whether it’s deep cleaning the inside of the house and chasing down those illusive cobwebs or tackling some of the outside cleaning, it’s time to do some spring cleaning. Maybe you and your family don’t do spring cleaning per say, but I’m sure you’ve heard the term. Therefore, it’s fitting that we should keep this idea of deep cleaning and spring cleaning in our minds as we turn to II Corinthians 7 and read the first verse.
Last time, we talked about choosing our friends wisely and not partnering ourselves with unbelievers. But why are these things important? Why did God command us to keep ourselves separate and not allow the world into our personal lives?
Paul gives us the answer in the next few verses:
“What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.’”
~II Corinthians 6:16-18
Life is a race. The starting line was our birth day and the finish line the day we breathe our last. From point A to point B we are called to run with purpose, endurance, steadfastness, and faithfulness, not looking to the left or the right or becoming weighed down by sin, but running straight towards our goal—Jesus Christ.
While we understand that we should avoid sin and all that weighs us down in our race of faith, there is one key factor that I believe we often overlook. A factor that can either spur us on to greater faithfulness and stronger running or completely derailing and sidelining us from our calling. This key factor is who we run with.
“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.”
~II Corinthians 5:3-10
What did you learn from meditating and pondering this passage? Did the Holy Spirit open your eyes to any new insights, truths, and revelations? I’d love to hear them in the comments section! In the meantime, let’s take a closer look at these eight key attributes of a faithful servant of God.