2 Corinthians 6:1-13
Widen Your Hearts
In this short passage, Paul will write of the struggles which he and his co-laborers have experienced as apostles of Jesus Christ. You will remember that so much of the trouble at Corinth was caused by wandering preachers who liked to discredit Paul. So the Apostle will be forced to lay his credentials on the table again as he did in his first letter. But he makes it clear that he doesn’t like having to do it (12:11); only this time, he will speak of the sufferings he has endured as an apostle.
But let us be clear, Paul does not defend himself before the Corinthians to show that he is a better man than those who malign him; Paul defends himself to show this church how much he loves them. And so he begins, “We appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain,” and then, “Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Paul has wrestled with this church now for too long. This is now his fourth letter to them, and he has visited them one time of which we know turned out to be a disaster. He has had to correct them on some of the most basic teachings of the faith, even on matters of sexual morality. All of this can be understood given the pagan culture out of which many of them came and in which they still lived. But to doubt the one who served as midwife to bring them to faith in Christ, performed wonders through the Spirit, and was always gentle among them … well, one can understand why he must make this plea: Don’t tell me that you received the grace of God in vain! Be reconciled! Now is the day of salvation! Come!
Paul’s list of what the apostles endured for the sake of the gospel, for the sake of the churches, is humbling to say the least. The beauty of the list is that not only does he mention the hardships, such as beatings and imprisonments, but also the blessings which God gave them to endure such sufferings: purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, the power of God, weapons of righteousness; through honor and dishonor, slander and praise; treated as imposters yet true, as dying yet living, as sorrowful but ever rejoicing, as poor but rich, as destitute yet possessing everything, and all for the Kingdom of God and the churches. And so he implores the Corinthians to open their hearts as wide to him as his is open to them. I’ve heard much lately about people needing to open their hearts, but I don’t see people today suffering for “social justice” like Paul did then for the gospel. Open your hearts to the gospel and His Kingdom, and not some cheap imitation of man’s darkened dreams.