Seeing Grace Grow and Change People Is the Measure of Ministry that Has Integrity.

Too many pastors have been measured by worldly standards of success in this past year in the midst of all the distractions life and culture have brought our way. The real measure of successful ministry is what the all-powerful grace of God is doing in people's lives. Only Jesus Christ can transform a life so completely.

Operation (2 Corinthians 6:1)

The Corinthians had been distracted by criticisms of Paul's ministry. He defends the ministry of Christ through him and urges them to focus on the work of God's grace instead. Believers work with God's grace in the process of sanctification. We must not be derailed.

Consideration (2 Corinthians 6:2)

Paul urged unbelievers and believers to take advantage of the spiritual freedom offered in Christ.

Commendation (2 Corinthians 6:3-10)

Paul lists many disciplines that he practiced as an example of what God's grace naturally does in every Christian's life. He wanted others to focus on the work of God's grace in him, not simply on himself. His focus was on serving God and keeping himself out of the way. Anything of value came from God. Grace's work resulted in active ministry, not merely words.

Providences Allowed by God:

  • endurance - carrying a heavy load
  • affliction - an oppressive experience
  • hardship - unrelieved problems that don't go away
  • distress - an unavoidable tight corner (2 Corinthians 4:8)

Human Acts:

  • beatings, imprisonment, and tumults (civil disorder and riots)
  • Christians under persecution often received inappropriate blame for civil unrest. They did not retaliate but kept living out grace and light.

Self-Inflicted Difficulty:

  • labors - the hardest work for Christ
  • sleepless - likely out of concern for others' growth
  • hunger - either fasting or the result of giving oneself completely to the work of God in another's life

Moral Virtues:

  • The virtues listed in 2 Corinthians 6:6-10 are all found in the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
  • purity - moral uprightness
  • knowledge - learning God's will and living it out
  • patience - specifically with people who are growing slowly or stubborn (1 Thessalonians 5:14)


  • truthful speech, which is the content of the Gospel
  • power of God - see 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
  • armor of God - see Ephesians 6:10-18 and 1 Thessalonians 5:1-5

Paul ends this section with 9 contrasts between human analysis and God's analysis of success. He refers to his preaching ministry in verse 8. Verse 9 reminds us that Christ in you will always be greater than the crisis before you (Philippians 1:21). In verse 10, he rejoices in those who embrace the Gospel. As in Philippians 4:10-14, he can be content with whatever God provides materially or spiritually. He is able to live in pursuit of Gospel progress by the power of grace at all times.

Application Points

  • Sometimes God allows hardship in our lives to show us the capability of His grace. Are you allowing difficulty to teach you that lesson? How can you prove the power of God's grace through your response?
  • Do you give yourself to the work of God in another's life? How are you serving the work of grace in those around you?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • 1 Peter 5:1-4
A Hymn to Encourage: "Jesus Led Me All The Way"

Someday life's journey will be o'er
And I shall reach that distant shore
I'll sing while ent'ring Heaven's door
Jesus led me all the way

Jesus led me all the way
Led me step by step each day
I will tell the saints and angels
As I lay my burdens down
Jesus led me all the way

If God should let me there review
The winding paths of earth I knew
It would be proven clear and true
Jesus led me all the way

And hither to my Lord has led
Today He guides each step I tread
And soon in Heav'n it will be said
Jesus led me all the way