I am using the daily Bible reading schedule from “The Bible.net” for my daily Bible reading.
Today, I am reading and commenting on 2 Corinthians 1-4.
After his greetings Paul starts this second letter to the Corinthians (at least, the second that we have a record of) by telling us that God will comfort us in our troubles. I really want to unpack what Paul says here a bit. The first part is fairly basic. He assures us that when we face troubles, difficulty, and sadness God will comfort us. We have no need to fear the trouble we may see in our future because Paul assures us that God will be at our side through it all. However, Paul goes further than to tell us that we do not need to fear such troubles. He tells us that we should embrace such troubles as they come to us because once God has seen us through them we will be able to comfort and aid others who face such troubles. There is one more important point which Paul makes as he discusses the troubles he experienced. God allows trouble to come into our lives so that we learn that we must rely on Him. If we attempt to get through our troubles on our own, we will fail.
I like the wording chosen by the NIV better for the beginning of Chapter 3 (although the NLT’s phrasing is easier to follow). We are not competent to accomplish the tasks God has for us on our own. God did not choose us for the tasks He gave us because we had the skills He needed for them. It is only because of God’s grace that we are qualified to do the tasks to which He has called us. It is important for us to remember this. We are not going to convince anyone to come to God by our cleverness. We will only do so as the Holy Spirit moves in them. We are but weak vessels through which God delivers His power into this world. Again Paul makes another vital point. If we use tricks, deception, or cheats of any kind to get people to come to the Lord, we will fail. We need to remember that our goal is to benefit those to whom we preach (I am using the most general definition possible of the word “preach” here). Therefore we do not need to use trickery of any kind to get them to accept the message which God gives us for them. If and when God’s Spirit opens their eyes and ears, they will recognize the good that comes from turning to Him and allowing Him to transform them. On the other hand, if we use tricks and deception to convince them, when they see through out deception, as they will sooner or later, they are likely to believe that everything we have said was a lie. Let us trust in the plain, unadorned Word of God to convince people.