6 As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says,
“In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
3 We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. 12 We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. 13 As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also.
Warning Against Idolatry
14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial ? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will live with them
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.”
“Come out from them
and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.”
“I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
I don’t know about you, but Paul’s life sounds terrible, and yet incredible at the same time. He lists a bunch of things he goes through on a regular basis, beatings, hunger, imprisonment, hardships, hard work, etc.. but yet has an amazing perspective of each one. dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. Paul is trying so hard to make the Corinthians see the sincerity in which they came and shared the Good News with them. They did not come because they enjoyed all those beatings and persecution, but clearly out of love and concern for each person in Corinth. But they are apparantly not returning that love and concern for Paul.
Paul then makes a very relatable statement to them, for me anyway, when he tells them to not be yoked with unbelievers. This is a passage I understand very well, as my wife and I were very unequally yoked in the first years of our marriage. I was not a Christian and this led to many very heated arguments and fights in our marriage. We were very blessed that the prayers of many saints were answered when the Holy Spirit got a hold of me one evening, and life forever changed. Had that not happened, I suspect we would not be together. There is a very real spiritual battle that rages when we align ourselves with unbelievers this intimately. This could be true not only for marriage, but for business, close friends, dating, etc.. We were able to overcome it, but I suspect we are definitely in the minority.
Paul gives very good advice for all believers in this chapter. And I think we really need to re-read his perspective of the hardships and things he endured just to preach the Gospel. What is our attitude when encounter some hardship? Are we willing to endure hardship to reach the lost? What kind of hardship have I encountered preaching the Gospel, and how did I react? Questions to ponder today.
Lord, thank you that you walked me through the fire early on in my marriage. Thank you for the understanding of these passages in a very personal way. Help me to endure any hardships or persecution that may come my way. In Jesus name, amen.