Paul is being attacked by factions within the Christian community as well as opponents in the broader civic community. They question his authority,his sincerity,and his worldview. He responds by focusing on God’s grace in Jesus Christ and the courage it gives him to deal with difficulties as he continues to serve God faithfully through purity,knowledge,patience,and kindness.
1 In our work together with God,then,we beg you who have received God’s grace not to let it be wasted. 2 Hear what God says:
“When the time came for me to show you favor,I heard you;when the day arrived for me to save you,I helped you.”
Listen! This is the hour to receive God’s favor;today is the day to be saved! 3 We do not want anyone to find fault with our work,so we try not to put obstacles in anyone’s way. 4 Instead,in everything we do we show that we are God’s servants by patiently enduring troubles,hardships,and difficulties. 5 We have been beaten,jailed,and mobbed;we have been overworked and have gone without sleep or food. 6 By our purity,knowledge,patience,and kindness we have shown ourselves to be God’s servants—by the Holy Spirit,by our true love,7 by our message of truth,and by the power of God. We have righteousness as our weapon,both to attack and to defend ourselves. 8 We are honored and disgraced;we are insulted and praised. We are treated as liars,yet we speak the truth;9 as unknown,yet we are known by all;as though we were dead,but,as you see,we live on. Although punished,we are not killed;10 although saddened,we are always glad;we seem poor,but we make many people rich;we seem to have nothing,yet we really possess everything.
11 Dear friends in Corinth! We have spoken frankly to you;we have opened our hearts wide. 12 It is not we who have closed our hearts to you;it is you who have closed your hearts to us. 13 I speak now as though you were my children:show us the same feelings that we have for you. Open your hearts wide!
What do you think? What are the ways in which we can model the love of God in the face of opposition and criticism,or in the face of indifference?