Read 2 Corinthians 6
As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says,
“In the time of my favor I heard you,
and in the day of salvation I helped you.”
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
3 We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. 12 We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. 13 As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also.
Warning Against Idolatry
14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will live with them
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.”
“Come out from them
and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.”
“I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
Paul’s first line in chapter 6 should stop you in your tracks: “As God’s coworkers, we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.” Those first three words are shocking. We are coworkers with God? Are you serious?! What. A. Privilege.
God could work in any way He wants to, yet He chooses to work through you and me… and not just through us like robots, but with us, as His children. Have you ever done a chore with your kids? Or can you remember a time when you were young and did chores with your parents? It may not be the most efficient way to do yard work or wash dishes, but the value in working with children doesn’t come from the results they produce. It comes from what is produced in them as kids work at chores with their parents–things like a strong work ethic, determination, grit, and responsibility. Beyond even that, the value of doing chores with kids lies within what is gained relationally between the parents and kids as they spend time together, working together.
It is the same with us and God! He chooses to work with us, His children, not because it’s the most efficient way to spread the Good News; He honestly could do better on His own. No, He chooses to work with us because He isn’t after perfection, or a perfectly manicured lawn; He is after our hearts. He wants us to work with Him because it makes us better–it produces faith and endurance and patience. Working with Him makes us more like God as we spend time with Him, learning from Him. While there may be messes made along the way, like when you teach a toddler to help wash dishes, the value created relationally between us and God is exponentially more important.
As you consider the privilege it is to work with God, ask yourself: are you working with Him or are you receiving God’s grace in vain? Are you joining Him in His mission of spreading the gospel all over the world, or are you receiving the gift of salvation and keeping it for yourself? As Paul continues to explain in this chapter, it is not easy work we are called to, but it is good. And most of all, it is work that we don’t have to do alone, but get to do with God, our Father.
Where is God at work in the world around you? How do you join Him in it? In what area have you not joined with Him, yet should?
Oftentimes, we think about being “yoked together with believers” strictly in relation to marriage. But in this passage, Paul is talking about how influenced the Corinthian church was by the unbelievers around them. Think about the five closest relationships in your life. Are you yoked with unbelievers? In what ways do you allow their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs to influence yours?
Did You Know?
In verses 4-10, Paul recommends himself and his ministry to the Corinthians, something he does three times total in just this one letter. Yet the things he commends himself with, such as beatings, imprisonments, sleepless nights, and hunger, are things most people, including the Corinthians, considered failures, not successes. Here, though, Paul is contrasting their incorrect view of ministry with one where God works through people’s weakness, not their strengths.