2 Corinthians 6:2 I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
The gospel is not just a matter of life and death, but of heaven and hell. Since tomorrow is not guaranteed (or even the next half hour) the call to believe is always urgent. It is never too soon to come to Jesus Christ.
A lady invited her neighbor to church, and at the end of the sermon, the minister invited people to receive Jesus Christ (John 1:12). Many responded, but this dear lady declined because she was seventy-eight years old, and it is hard to change at that age. But she could not sleep that night, so she called her neighbor, and they talked until midnight. Finally, she received Christ Jesus as Lord (Colossians 2:6). Then she went back to bed and died in her sleep. I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
2 Corinthians 6:12 We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us.
Paul was trying to reconcile with some who turned against him, and was feeling the pain of their rejection. This is a window into the Christian ministry. Ministers are often rejected by the very people they serve. Instead of gratitude, they often receive abuse. They might be tempted to respond in kind, but like the Apostle Paul, they should not withhold their affection. To be rejected by those we serve is to share in the sufferings of Christ (Philippians 3:10). This is never easy, but will make us more like the Savior.
2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.
Animals were used for plowing, and for extra strength, two animals could be yoked together. If a farmer did not have two oxen, he might try to yoke an ox with a donkey. This was not a great experience for either, and made it hard to plow a straight row. Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together (Deuteronomy 22:10), wrote Moses.
Paul applied this to Christians and their relationships with unbelievers. He was probably thinking of false teachers in the church (2 Corinthians 11:13-15), but there are other applications.
Any relationship that leads a believer away from Christ is a problem, of course, but the most common example is marriage. Many Christians have married an unbeliever with the hope of converting them. Instead, many believers get converted back to the world. Christian marriage should be like a triangle, with husband and wife at the bottom, and God at the top. They closer they draw to God, the closer they draw to each other.
2 Corinthians 7:4 I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.
Trouble and joy were not mutually exclusive for Paul, and should not be for us. If we wait until our problems are solved before we have joy, we will never have joy this side of heaven.
A missionary was thrown into prison with one of his converts who lost everything for Christ. His wife, children, house and reputation were gone as he sat in a cold dark cell with the missionary. The missionary felt so sorry for the man that he apologized for leading him to Christ. But the man replied, Having Jesus is more precious to me than any other happiness. All the trouble in the world cannot take away our joy, if we understand what we have in Christ.
2 Corinthians 7:10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation . . . but worldly sorrow brings death.
Peter and Judas are good examples of each. The night of Jesus’ arrest, Peter denied him three times with a curse. He was so filled with remorse that he went out and wept bitterly (Luke 22:62). But after Jesus rose, Peter was restored (John 21:15-19).
Judas’ story is different. He also betrayed the Lord (Matthew 26:14-16), but was so filled with remorse that he went out and hanged himself (Matthew 27:3-5). Peter had godly sorrow leading to salvation. Judas had worldly sorrow leading to death.
Everyone who tries to follow Christ will fail at times. We can grieve to the point of death, or trust in God’s forgiveness. Satan wants us to think that we are so bad, there is no hope for us. But Jesus came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), and justifies the ungodly (Romans 4:5), wrote Paul. Sorrow for sin is good if it leads us back to the Savior.
2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
Paul was collecting an offering for a worthy cause, and he wanted the Corinthians to give sacrificially. To encourage their generosity, he reminded them of the generosity of Christ. Jesus proved his love through sacrifice, and we can do the same.
A middle-school boy mowed lawns all summer, and earned a good amount of money. He could have bought any number of things for himself, but he took his wad of cash and put it in the hands of a missionary, so the gospel could be spread. Paul called the Corinthians’ generosity the proof of [their] love (2 Corinthians 8:24).
2 Corinthians 9:7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
When Christians discover how rich they are in Christ, they often become surprisingly generous. For example, when Jesus went to the home of a tax collector, the man was so overjoyed he said, Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor. Jesus replied, Today salvation has come to this house (Luke 19:8-9). A generous heart is a good indication that we belong to Christ.
Feelings of generosity are seldom constant, however, so Paul provided a more stable rule. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give. Instead of waiting for a generous impulse, Christians should consider what they would like to give, and do it. Some will give more, and some will give less, but each should decide on their own, and then follow through. They can adjust the amount whenever they like, but they should do so conscientiously.
The minimal standard of giving in the Old Testament was ten percent. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse (Malachi 3:10), said God. But the Old Testament law became obsolete (Hebrews 8:13) with the coming of Christ. Likewise, we are not under the law, but under grace (Romans 6:14), wrote Paul. The New Testament does not require Christians to give ten percent of their income, but it does require them to be generous (Luke 6:38). Believers are free to give ten percent if they like, but it should not be done reluctantly or under compulsion.
Reflection and Review
Why shouldn’t Christians marry unbelievers?
What is the difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow?
How much money should Christians give?