Verse: 2 Corinthians 13:5-10
5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? 6 And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. 7 Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong—not so that people will see that we have stood the test but so that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. 8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. 9 We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is that you may be fully restored. 10 This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.
In the book of 2 Corinthians, the apostle Paul pleads with the people of the church in the city of Corinth, Greece to return to Jesus. Before writing the letter in this book, Paul had visited the Corinthians and told them the good news (gospel) of salvation from their sins through Jesus. After he left to share the gospel elsewhere, the Corinthian church became divided about what church leaders they should follow (check out 1 Corinthians 1 and 3). Some began to question whether Paul was really an apostle of Jesus and called him weak (as evidenced in 2 Corinthians 10-12). Others started to rebel against what God had instructed them through Paul and continued in their sinful lifestyles (see 2 Corinthians 12:21). In the final chapter 13 of the book of 2 Corinthians, Paul gives a warning to the church and calls them to repentance. He tells them that he is doing this, not for proof of the authority that God has given to him, but, for the purpose that the people of the church will be strong in their relationship with God, through Jesus.
Disclaimer: As I sat down to think about the application of these verses for my life and for ours, I had to take a pause. I started to write this devotion after a long day and I was tired and grumpy. My sinful nature was showing through in my attitude and my words. Verse 5 spoke pointedly to me, and I needed to examine myself and repent of my sin. After asking for forgiveness and starting new in the morning, I’m going to have faith that The Lord will redeem my perspective and writing.
In doing some research in preparation for this devotion, I found it interesting that the city of Corinth was an important city located between Athens and Sparta. People of influence would come to Corinth to make speeches that others would pay to hear, with various theories on how to improve one’s life. To me, this sounds much like our modern day conferences and events. Possibly, it was in these Corinthian “conferences” where some were led astray from the truth of Jesus.
Just like the days of the early church in Corinth, today it is easy in our modern day society to get distracted from the truth and question our leaders of the church. In the world outside of the church, we’re taught to rely on ourselves, to find and follow our own truth that makes us feel happy. This message encourages us to rebel from Jesus and our leaders in the church. And, when church leaders go astray themselves in their sin, that is put on public display in an attempt to disparage the gospel of Jesus. As a result, the enemy, other people, and our own sinful nature questions Jesus and throws accusations against His teachings. We need to be diligently aware of all of this and be on our guard.
What can we do? Take some advice from Paul in these final verses of 2 Corinthians. First, like verse 5 says, we should always be testing ourselves. Are we in line with what Jesus taught us? Are we continuing to rely on our faith in Jesus to save us and guide us? Next, if we find that we don’t like a particular teaching of the church, let’s take a pause. Instead of attacking our pastors who are the messengers, and calling them weak or out of touch, like people were accusing Paul, let’s take our concerns back to Jesus and ask Him for clarification. He will certainly show us the truth in good time and how to love each other in the meantime. Finally, like Paul closes these verses, let’s make a choice to have hearts that are willing to be open to corrections that will help us to get ourselves right with Jesus. If we aren’t willing to do that, we should be ready to hear tough challenges from our leaders in the church. After all, like Paul says throughout 2 Corinthians, the authority that our leaders have been given to challenge how we live our lives is actually for our own good. These challenges will help us to walk with Jesus and receive the amazing gift of salvation and eternal life through Him.
Father God, please help us to put aside our sin and rebelliousness to follow Jesus like you intend. We want your Holy Spirit to work in our hearts so that we are convicted of where we need to change and so that we are thankful for those who lead us and challenge us. Please help us to live in unity as your church. We ask that you would extend the blessing that Paul prayed for the church of Corinth to us … “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14) Amen.
Author: Chris Fraser