Intro: It is fun to plan a trip that involves good times, loved ones, and relaxation. We all need these times, because the challenges of life press in on our souls [minds/wills/emotions] and make us weary in doing what is good before God (Gal 6:9). Restful and relaxing trips are a blessing; however, have you had to plan a trip that you knew would involve high levels of stress and conflict?
In our passage today, the Apostle Paul is planning a challenging trip, so he writes a letter, before his arrival, to some people he will be visiting. His letter to the Corinthians reveals the plan for this trip is not relaxation. Indeed, Paul plans a trip that potentially involves conflict, confrontation, as well as correction. Paul is planning his third trip to visit the church in Corinth in order to set them straight. They have been indoctrinated with a false gospel and it is wreaking havoc among the believers. Paul must go reset the righteous plumb line of God’s Word before them. He addresses them and basically says, “Look at yourselves and tell me if you see Jesus—the Living Word of God operating in your life!”
An array of personal pronouns seem to be emphasized in our present world, but Paul basically uses two pronouns in his address: “you” and “yourselves.” In other words, Paul makes them face their personal decisions and lifestyles before Almighty God. He points out the incongruity of their faith next to the Word of God as a way to validate a genuine faith. No opportunity to cast blame on anyone else. It is pretty simple really. God gave “you” life; how are “you” living it? Do you see the Christian faith as being about your heart, your attitudes, words, and behaviors before your God?
When the Apostle Paul arrived in Corinth, perhaps he had to publicly denounce the behavior of some sins, by proclaiming what the Word of God said about the matter. Or maybe Paul would need to call in the church leaders in order to address certain sins. Paul was ready to do what he needed to do, even though it was a trip he did not want to make. Paul was a leader who wanted God’s family to grow up and become mature. It wasn’t enough for people to make a profession of faith, nor was it enough for people to attend a few worship services. No, Paul wanted to help believers develop a genuine and mature faith that would produce righteous fruit that revealed God’s glorious Kingdom on earth.
We all have a sinful nature, but for some reason we tend to think our sin is small or hidden and someone else’s sin is BIG and glaring! There are no small or big sins, my friends. Every sin makes us guilty before God and in need of mercy and forgiveness. Sin requires humility before God, because every sin is ultimately against him. As well, sin requires hard work and conflict resolution, because we sin against one another. This is the message the people of Corinth needed to hear. Is it a message “you” need to hear, today?
2 Corinthians 13:5-10
5 Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith. 6 As you test yourselves, I hope you will recognize that we have not failed the test of apostolic authority.
7 We pray to God that you will not do what is wrong by refusing our correction. I hope we won’t need to demonstrate our authority when we arrive. Do the right thing before we come—even if that makes it look like we have failed to demonstrate our authority. 8 For we cannot oppose the truth, but must always stand for the truth. 9 We are glad to seem weak if it helps show that you are actually strong. We pray that you will become mature.
10 I am writing this to you before I come, hoping that I won’t need to deal severely with you when I do come. For I want to use the authority the Lord has given me to strengthen you, not to tear you down.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for reminding me about taking personal responsibility for my life; the life You gave to me as a gift. May I live for Your honor, today, as a gift back to You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.