2 Corinthians 6:3-13

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, July 1, 2024 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children —open wide your hearts also.
- 2 Corinthians 6:3-13

For quite a while now in this letter, Paul has been discussing various aspects of being an apostle. In this passage, he shares more about the hardships he endures, emphasizing the integrity and perseverance required in the Christian faith.

Paul begins here in verse 3 by addressing the importance of integrity in ministry. He and his fellow workers strive not to cause others to falter in their faith. This commitment to avoiding actions that might lead others astray is crucial for maintaining the credibility of their ministry. It is not at all surprising that Paul was accused of various things, but his main concern was that any of those accusations would not be based in the truth. As a minister of reconciliation, he should keep a clean conscience and do what is right as a good example for those to whom he was sharing the gospel message.

In verses 4-5, Paul provides a list of adversities he and his companions face. The mention of "great endurance" suggests that these challenges are not occasional but ongoing. Paul highlights physical and emotional sufferings, such as beatings and imprisonments, which were common experiences for early Christian missionaries. This vivid depiction of their struggles serves to illustrate the depth of their commitment and the high cost of their ministry. They did not just face a little social discomfort but rather many physical adversities, including beatings and imprisonments.

He continues his list in verses 6-7, but here it has a more positive spin. Rather than simply focusing on the negatives, Paul and his team remain steadfast in their virtues. They exhibit purity, understanding, patience, and kindness—qualities that reflect the character of Christ—even in the face of the adversities listed previously. The mention of the Holy Spirit and sincere love highlights that their ministry is not merely human effort but is empowered by divine presence and genuine compassion. Their truthful speech and reliance on God's power are crucial for combating the challenges they face, depicted metaphorically as "weapons of righteousness" that they hold in both hands, reminiscent of the armor of God we see in Ephesians 6.

In verses 8-10, Paul brings up contrasts that they face in ministry. They experience both honor and dishonor, positive and negative reports. Despite being genuine, they are sometimes seen as impostors. Known to some, they are obscure to others. These contrasts highlight the paradoxes of Christian ministry, where external appearances often give a false representation of deeper spiritual truths. Despite facing death and sorrow, they live with joy and spiritual richness. This section underscores the resilience and inner strength that faith provides, not only for Paul and his companions but for all believers throughout time.

Paul concludes this section in verses 11-13 with an appeal to the Corinthians. He emphasizes the openness and affection he and his colleagues have shown, urging the Corinthians to reciprocate. This plea for mutual love and understanding reflects the relational aspect of ministry. Paul’s use of paternal language ("I speak as to my children") underscores his deep care and concern for their spiritual well-being.

There are several key points that Paul makes here that we need to apply to our lives as followers of Jesus today.

First, have integrity and avoid causing others to stumble. Paul’s emphasis on not placing stumbling blocks before others challenges us to consider how our actions impact those around us. In our own lives, this might mean being mindful of our behavior, ensuring it aligns with our professed values, and avoiding actions that could cause others to falter in their faith.

Second, be prepared to face adversity and endure it. The list of hardships Paul endures serves as a powerful reminder of the perseverance required in the Christian walk. Today, while we might not face physical beatings or imprisonments, we encounter various trials that test our faith. Paul's example encourages us to endure these with steadfastness, knowing that our struggles are part of a larger spiritual journey.

Third, live out Christian virtues. Paul and his companions exemplify virtues such as purity, understanding, patience, and kindness. In our own context, these qualities remain essential. They not only reflect our faith but also serve as a testimony to others. By relying on the Holy Spirit and demonstrating sincere love, we can navigate life's challenges with grace and truth.

Fourth, realize that there will be paradoxes and things that won’t make worldly sense in our faith. The paradoxes Paul describes—glory and dishonor, sorrow and rejoicing—mirror the complexities of our faith journey. These contrasts remind us that external circumstances do not define our spiritual reality. In moments of sorrow, we can find joy. In times of lack, we can experience spiritual abundance. Embracing these paradoxes allows us to find strength and hope in seemingly contradictory situations.

Finally, focus on the relational aspect of ministry. Paul’s heartfelt appeal to the Corinthians highlights the importance of relationships in ministry. His openness and vulnerability set a model for how we should engage with others. Building genuine, reciprocal relationships based on love and trust is crucial for fostering a supportive and nurturing faith community.

By internalizing these teachings from Paul’s message here and applying them in our lives, we can navigate our faith journey with resilience and grace, reflecting the love and truth of Christ in all that we do.

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