Pastors' Devotions: September 18-24, 2016
Week of September 18-24, 2016
What Is Important to Know: (Exegetical Perspective)
Paul’s words in the first couple of verses in this chapter continue his thought that begins in 5:20. Paul exhorts two kinds of reconciliation in this chapter. First, he wants them to be reconciled to God (5:20). He does not say so explicitly, but Paul seems to think that their spiritual health has suffered. He doesn’t want them to receive the grace of God in vain. He quotes Isaiah about the day of salvation. He asserts that now, after the appearance of Jesus, is the day of salvation. He seems to want them to make a recommitment to their salvation. Paul also wants them to be reconciled to him. He reminds them of the hardships he has endured in his ministry. Paul likely does not want to call attention to himself, but he wants them to understand that that he has earned the right to preach to them. He proclaims his love for them as well. He feels estranged from them, and wants to draw closer to them. He ends this section by steering them away from the influence of the world. They go out in the world to do business and to spread the gospel, but he doesn’t want the church to accept the values of the world.
Where Is God in These Words: (Theological Perspective)
The background of this section is the reconciling work God has done through Jesus Christ. God has come near in Jesus and offers the day of salvation.
What Does This Mean for Our Lives: (Pastoral Perspective)
I feel humbled when I read the things Paul endured for his ministry. I can’t imagine continuing any endeavor after a beating. We often think church work will be fun and rewarding. When we start a ministry, we may encounter resistance, complaints and criticism. Sometimes we all have to step back to protect ourselves. Yet, we see from Paul’s experience that we can persevere in the face of setbacks. We do not glorify suffering; we do not deserve suffering, but Paul endured great suffering because he believed in his ministry.
What Is God’s Word Calling Us to Do: (Homiletical Perspective)
We can look at all three things Paul sought to accomplish in this chapter. He wanted the Corinthians to draw closer to God. He wanted them to consider his call to ministry and what he was willing to do for the sake of his ministry. He wanted them to avoid the contamination of the world. We can apply all three to our lives.
Questions for Reflection:
- How might Paul’s words about receiving the grace of God in vain apply to us? How do we fail to respond to God’s grace?
- When do we continue in a ministry despite opposition, hassles or criticism and when do we draw back to protect ourselves? How do we make the decision? What are the joys of continuing despite trouble?
- In what ways do we accept the values of the world rather than choosing Christian values? How do we recognize the temptation and how do we avoid it?