As Paul rejoices in his restored relationship with the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 7:12-16, we can see three more virtues that are present in Christian relationships.
When resolving conflict between Christians, these three areas are necessary to consider: identity, growth, and humanity. Anyone in Christ must be viewed from that vantage point; therefore, we must assume that spiritual growth is happening in their life. The Holy Spirit is never dormant.
The occasion for Paul’s writing this and other letters to the Corinthians was to address a sin issue. His secondary purpose was to restore their relationships. All this was for the ultimate purpose of enabling Gospel progress to continue. There is no Gospel progress unless Christians are right with the Lord and each other in the local church.
Healthy relationships are vital for the progress of the Gospel. Christian relationships in the church are founded and grown by grace. 2 Corinthians 7 is a practical chapter about how we get along in the church. We don’t get along without the supernatural work of grace – a personal relationship with Christ and growing in Christ-likeness.
No one enjoys growing pains, but most would rather have pain than not be growing. The Bible repeatedly tells us that painful times are divinely appointed for our growth. As we go through these times, God’s grace is an unlimited available resource we can utilize in every natural rhythm of life. God’s grace saves us and continues to compel us to grow in our Christian walk.
God’s nature is unity (Deuteronomy 6:4). When we are baptized into Christ, we are one with Him and with each other spiritually (John 17:11, 20-22). David and Solomon both praised the importance of unity among God’s people (Psalm 133:1, Proverbs 6:17-19). Anyone who dismisses the unity God has created and spreads strife unnecessarily is considered an abomination. The job of believers in the church is to maintain the unity of the Spirit in peace (Ephesians 4:3, Philippians 4:2). God’s people love what God has provided and persevere in unity.
As Paul continues to write according to his theme of ministry integrity, he turns to the quality of Christian relationships. This is one way people can suffer in a local church. When they are persuaded that Jesus is not enough, their relationships inside the church struggle, and they don't know how to develop redemptive relationships in the community. When unsure of the permanence of their relationship with God, then people have no foundation from which to build other relationships and no message of how the Gospel changed them.
The only way to minister with integrity is to have relationships continually maintained by God's Word. This must include forgiving those who have offended us.
A lack of healthy Christian relationships grieves the Holy Spirit. When He is grieved, He won't do much with us to reach lost people. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 tells us 4 specific ways the Holy Spirit bolsters our activity inside and outside of the local church.
As we continue to study 2 Corinthians 1, we will see what Paul's ministry meant to interdependent relationships within the church. All the promises of God for personal relationships in the church are presented, received, and fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, Christian relationships can and should thrive in Him. This does not mean there will be no struggle; but healing and progress can always be found in the Gospel. The unwavering nature of the Gospel message helps us regain spiritual confidence after conflict.
On Memorial Day, we reflect on the sobering love that gives one's life for a cause. As God's people, we must also value the service of saints in community of God, no less than we do those who serve our country. There is no greater cause than global Gospel evangelism. Sacrifices for our national freedom are great and honorable, but they are not of infinite salvific value.
2 Corinthians finds its author, Paul, defending his mission against threats to Gospel progress. His goal with the Corinthian believers to whom he was writing was to remain ministry partners even through relational difficulty while enjoying mutual comfort from God. Their unity in Christ was greater than anything that would divide them.
Many of us may not feel wealthy when we look at our budgets. The Bible says that we should be content with food, clothing, and shelter (1 Timothy 6:8). By that standard, especially compared to the majority of people in our world, we are an affluent group of people. Solomon gives wisdom for wealthy people to maintain our eternal purpose for living.
One thing you can find almost anywhere you go, including in hotel rooms, is a Bible. When a person opens a copy of God's Word, what should they expect? How do you approach the Bible?
Observe any living thing, and you will see that God designs His creatures to partner with others. They are not created to exist alone. Birds are always in a flock. Marriage was instituted because "it is not good for man to be alone" (Genesis 2:18). A singer's performance is greatly enhanced by a good accompanist. Those in the trades or any career seek to replicate themselves in an apprentice. Living things do not function well alone.
We are studying the third section of Romans 12. When people are transformed by grace (Romans 12:1-2) and functioning well in the body of Christ (Romans 12:3-8), we are able to love each other as God intends.
Romans 12:9-16’s list of responsibilities may seem to have no rhyme or reason to their order, but they fit into the chapter context perfectly. Romans 12 begins the practical portion of the book as we seek to live God’s glorious gospel outlined in Romans 1-11. If the chapter is a 3-story house, verses 1-2 are the foundation. Verses 3-8 are the first floor named Community. The second floor, verses 9-16, is about Compassion. Verses 17-21 address our Commission.
We live in the most informed generation possibly of all time. We have an enormous amount of information available to us, whether it is legitimate or not. Thomas Jefferson used the phrase "knowledge is power" in his letters at least four times, each time regarding the establishment of a state university in Virginia. He also believed in the power of knowledge to bring safety and happiness.
Despite the amount of knowledge acquired by all generations leading to ours, we still have not curbed societal ills of hatred, violence, immorality, and addiction. Knowledge cannot control our passions. It cannot change the human condition.
There is only one kind of knowledge that can permanently change a person. "Only intelligent commitment of a life in light of God's gift of salvation can curb the human condition" (Bennett). Only God receives the glory for changing a human being and sustaining that transformation (Romans 11:36). Sinful people need to hear of Christ and surrender their hearts to His authority.
All Scripture is God’s Word, and is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). It’s our natural tendency to apply principles that we know from the New Testament to Old Testament stories. But remember, a text taken out of context leaves just a con. So don’t judge Jacob too harshly. His family did not have the written Bible, but they did have the oral Word of God which they were responsible for.
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