Read 2 Corinthians 13
1 This will be my third visit to you. “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” 2 I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, 3 since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. 4 For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him in our dealing with you.
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.
11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All God’s people here send their greetings.
14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Having read the last chapter of 2 Corinthians, you can’t help but think that Paul has been building up to this moment. It’s almost like he’s used the previous twelve chapters as a setup so he could ask this question at the end of the book: Are you in the faith or not? After all of this has been said about following Jesus, are you in or out? It’s one thing to listen to everything Paul has said, but it’s another to believe it. If you aren’t living out the Christian lifestyle, then you probably aren’t a Christian! While he was specifically challenging the church in Corinth, his words should still confront us today. When you truly examine your life, does it look like you are a disciple of Christ or of the world?
What is uncomfortable in this passage is how Paul defines a follower of Christ. He says that to live in faith is to live in weakness. We are people who should be marked by dependence rather than independence. With this in mind, what would living in weakness look like today? It would mean putting others first. It would mean praying before acting. It would mean listening before speaking. Do those things characterize your life? If not, you may be missing out on life with Jesus. Before you move on today, let Paul’s challenge sink in. Dependence is the goal in our walk with Jesus. If dependence is the goal, then weakness is the advantage.
Why do you think Paul ends his chapter on such a challenging tone?
What do you think it means to live by God’s power?
What are some ways in which you can become more dependent on God today?
Did You Know?
When Paul came back to Corinth for the third time, he would have three options for dealing with those in unrepentant sin. He could 1) confront them and publicly denounce their behavior, 2) exercise church discipline by calling them before the church leaders, or 3) excommunicate them from the church.