Chapter 6 of 2 Corinthians starts out in verse 1 with a strong plea by Paul to the Christians at Corinth. He begins by begging them… “Don’t receive the grace of God in vain” in the Christian Standard Bible translation. Or in the New Living Translation, it says, “we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it.”
This plea comes because there was a group of false apostles preaching that they must focus on keeping the mosaic law plus follow Jesus. I want you to know that any message that teaches anything other than Salvation through Jesus Christ ALONE is a false gospel. Scripture says in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Now let’s move on to verse 2 where Paul declares, “Today is the day of Salvation”. There is no better time than now. If you have never made the decision to accept Christ’s free gift of salvation. Today is your day! It’s as simple as ABC. The A stands for – Admit - Admit you are a sinner. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Next B. B stands for– Believe – Believe that Jesus paid for your sin at the cross. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. And finally C – C stands for confess, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” and that’s in Romans 10:9-10 If today is your day of salvation, we would love to hear about it and celebrate it with you! Let us know and we can get you connected to some amazing resources like a Bible, if you don’t have one, and some next steps to help you on your journey!
Now let’s get back to today’s passage, Paul continues with describing his ministry and some hardships he has experienced. In verses 3-5 he goes over the many hardships he faced in his ministry such as: afflictions, hardships, difficulties, beating, imprisonments, riots, sleepless nights and times of hunger. Wow, after reading that list of all that Paul experienced, I quickly realize I have no clue what real suffering looks like for the sake of the gospel. After sharing all the adversity he faced, Paul goes on in verse 6 and clues us in on some qualities that are necessary in order to be faithful in ministry. He lists qualities such as purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, sincere love, the word of truth, the power of God, weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left. I pray some of these qualities will be markers in my life and ministry and yours as well.
Next in verses 8-10 Paul lists nine contradictory things or good and bad things he faced in his ministry such as: glory and dishonor; slander and good report; regarded as deceivers, yet true; as unknown, yet recognized; as grieving, yet always rejoicing; having nothing, yet possessing everything. Paul was open, honest, and transparent and really was bearing his soul to them and in turn he was asking them to open their hearts to him as well.
Finally, Paul finishes out the chapter with a warning for the Corinthians, which I believe applies to us today as well. He states in verse 14 – “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.” Or the New Living Translation says, “Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers.” This points back to Deuteronomy 22:10 which prohibited yoking together two different animals. It speaks of joining two things that should not be joined together. He goes on to question, “For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?” I believe Paul gives us this warning for any close relationship. It’s not just referring to a Christian marrying an unbeliever, which I think is what most people quote it for. I think it can include any close relationship, a close friendship or even a business partnership. I believe the reason for this is when we are in a very close relationship with someone who isn’t a believer, generally it is much easier for someone to pull us down to their way of thinking. If I were to stand on a chair and had a friend standing on the ground, would it be easier for me to pull them up to stand on the chair with me or would it be easier for them to pull me down on the ground? Obviously, It would be easier for them to pull me down! The same is true in relationships! It is much easier for sin to drag you down than it is for you to pull people up out of it when you are in a very close relationship. Paul gave a similar warning back in 1 Corinthians 15:33 – “Do not be mislead: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” These warnings are here for a reason. We can not go against the Word of God and win.
Now I do want to make sure to add a disclaimer here. These verses do not mean that we are to close ourselves off to all non-believers. Afterall, Jesus was known for eating with sinners and tax collectors and in the great commission He commands us to make disciples of ALL people. This warning is simply serving as a warning to make sure people in CLOSE relationships with us need to be “evenly yoked” because those are the voices that are influencing us the most. I challenge you as you read these chapters each day. Ask yourself, “What is the Holy Spirit saying to me?” Then write that down and do it! That way we are not guilty of what Paul begs us not to do in verse 1 to accept the gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it.