This is my final post in a series of posts from 1st and 2nd Corinthians over the course of the last year. Please take time to read 2 Corinthians chapter 13.
In this chapter Paul's frustration and love for the church at Corinth can be felt. Be sure to catch both the sarcasm and self-sacrifice in the close of this letter, which was the fourth letter to this beleaguered and spoiled group of believers.
Paul had been grilled by some of the people in the church at Corinth. They said he's wasn't a good speaker and even questioned his authority over them even though he was an Apostle and even though he planted the church. The people at Corinth put Paul to the test and Paul had spent much of his time in this letter defending himself and showing how he passed the test.
So, in verse 5 Paul says this,
"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?" 2 Corinthians 13:5
Paul, in a sense, is saying: "Test me? Test yourself! Do you even know if you have Jesus in you?" Paul was frustrated as he was being hassled by a group of people that had more problems than you could throw a stick at. The log was in the eye of the Corinthians and they were fabricating a speck in Paul's eye.
We must ask ourselves, "Do we do this?" If we are going to test others we must also test ourselves to prove that we are a believer. This does not mean to remember if we prayed a prayer of salvation. No, the prayer of salvation is not magic words. We can say those words and not mean them and not really be saved. To test whether or not we are saved we have to do things like ask ourselves if the Holy Spirit lives in us and we must look to see if God is doing any sanctification in our life.
As you read 2 Corinthians chapter 13 you must not miss the persistent love that Paul has for the Corinthians.
"Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong. Not that people will see that we have stood the test but that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed." 2 Corinthians 13:7
Paul, in a sense, is saying: "I hope that you find that you are saved even if you still think that I'm not good enough to pass the tests that you have given me." Paul is more concerned with their well being than his own name.
More than all the things above, Paul showed his persistent love for the Corinthians by writing this letter (his fourth to the Corinthians) and by planning to visit them for the third time. Despite all the personal attacks on Paul and all the trouble that the Corinthians had caused, he still loved them deeply. He cared for their souls. He cared that they be as much for the Kingdom as he believed they could be.
We must be like Paul in this way. Don't give up on those we love. Don't give up on those we're called to serve. I guarantee you that you will have moments when you ask, "What's the point?!?" That's okay to feel like that, but never, ever give up loving those people.
I pray that you, and I, have persistent love. And I'll end my posts in Corinthians the same way Paul did.
"Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for restoration, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints send their greetings.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all" today.