Text: 2 Corinthians 6:1-2

One common difficulty Christians face is handling the disappointments that may come in the ministry. The reality is that a faithful servant of the Lord can at the same time be loved and hated by others in the congregation. Those who love the Lord will appreciate his labours among them. However, those who walk in sin and reject God’s Word may often regard him as a thorn and a major irritation (see v. 3-10). Such are the seeming paradoxes in the service for the Lord.

Paul taught in 2 Corinthians 5:20 that Christians are “ambassadors for Christ” to bring the message of reconciliation to others. It is indeed a high and noble calling to be working together with God to bear witness of the gospel to the world (v.1a). Thus, despite the difficulties we face in serving the Lord, we must press on.

It is in this context that the Apostle Paul exhorts that one ought not to receive the grace of God in vain (v.1b). Christians have received the saving grace of God for a purpose – that we may be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matt. 5:13-16). Thus, after declaring that we have been saved by grace, Paul adds in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Moreover, every Christian is graciously given at least one spiritual gift that they may use it to build up the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12; Eph 4:7-12). Therefore, every man should strive to do the best for the Master, that the grace which he had received of God may not be in vain.

Paul then quotes Isaiah 49:8 to emphasise the urgency of the task at hand. The emphasis is on the words “now” and “accepted time”. Christ has come and proclaimed salvation. Now that He has ascended into heaven, the task has been passed to us who are His ambassadors. Since He has commissioned us for this task, He will also grant us the grace to perform it. We must therefore not take this grace for granted, but persevere in the midst of the hardships of service.

THOUGHT: Have I taken the grace of God for granted?
PRAYER: Lord, as Thou has called me, so help me to serve Thee.

Text: 2 Corinthians 6:11-13

“O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged.” (v.11). This verse is the thrust of the epistle, for here, the Apostle laid open his heart for all to see. Paul was not an unmoved straight-jacket theologian, but a caring Apostle who dearly loved the flock of God.

First, consider who the objects of Paul’s affections are. They are none other than the Corinthian Christians. The city of Corinth was well-known for being the centre of sexual promiscuity and wanton behaviour. Nevertheless, God saved some in this city of debauchery, calling them out of darkness into His marvellous light.

Sadly, while the church may have grown in numbers, they were struggling spiritually. There was a carnal and sectarian spirit in the church. When the Apostle Paul tried to correct them on certain issues, they treated him dishonourably.

Having gone through such painful rejection, Paul could have chosen to shut up and keep quiet. But he did not turn away from the petulant Corinthian Christians. Paul’s love for Christ and God’s people compelled him to continue reaching out to the Corinthian Christians. Thus, he continued to speak freely and affectionately to the Corinthians, opening his heart to them in love.

On the other hand, the Corinthians were slow to respond in the same way to Paul. Thus, Paul exhorted them not to be straitened with respect to Paul and his associates. The term “straitened” (stenochoreisthe) has the idea of narrowness, and is the opposite of the verb “to enlarge” (platunō). Paul is therefore asking the Corinthians to show the same affection to him, just as how he strove to show the same affection to them. The desire is for an open honest relationship among God’s people.

In application, how is your relationship with your pastor? Let there be genuine affection and love between pastor and the flock of God.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew