We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and
opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also.” 2 Corinthians 6:3
I love this passage- my very favorite in scripture. I have a lot of favorites, but this has to be the absolute best one. Paul is talking about how he has faith in Christ. Even when it causes him pain, he does not give up. Jesus was in a heck of a lot of pain in life because he loved us, and Paul is picking up his cross, and following Jesus.
He is willing to deal with the hardships. He talks about how he endures trouble and remains strong, even while times get hard. He deals with beatings, being in prison, being attacked. He works hard and goes without sleep and food, and yet during all this, he tries to remain pure and patient and kind.
He continues to show love to everyone, despite his hardships. He still spreads the message about Jesus, regardless of if bad or good things happen because of it. Even when people say bad stuff about him. He is doing God’s good work and sometimes is looked at as being fake. He says he’s dying, but he is living on and trying to stay strong. He’s can get very sad, yet he is always praising God, always being glad in him. He is poor and remains humble, yet he is enriching the lives of many people by preaching God’s word.
Even when he does not have anything in this world, he says he has everything, and it’s true; he has Jesus’s heart, he has the riches in heaven, he is changing people’s lives by telling them of Christ.
Essentially, he’s happy despite all of his crap. He know Jesus loves him and he knows the power of God’s message. He knows it changes hearts and delivers people from evil, it rocks their worlds. So he suffers, tolerating the pain for the sake of the message of Christ. It’s so beautiful! And I love this verse because it shows his true love for Christ. He’s willing to go through anything for him.
And in my life, when I’m sad and I feel criticized for loving God, I still try to spread the Gospel- even when I’m in pain. Even when the world tells me I’m wrong. Even when it seems so hard I could just give up. I remember this passage- and how as Christians, we stand beside Jesus not only in the good times, but in the bad times. We have his love, but Jesus had to suffer so we could have it. And being his children, we are called to pick up our cross, and at times, suffer also. Christ sacrificed himself, and we are called to self-sacrifice.
I look at it like this- when we were young children, we got in a lot of trouble, got on our parents nerves, acted spoiled, did bad things.. and our parents loved us anyway. When we take up money, time, energy, and in return, cause stress and worry for our parents, they don’t stop loving us. They never stop working hard to provide for us.
Christ is the same way. We can be so unfaithful and ignore what he says, act like jerks to him, don’t spend time with him; and at the end of the day, he still loves us. We are called to love him like he loves us. When the child matures and grows older, and the parents of the child grow really old, the child is supposed to help their parents and provide for them, the same way the parents provided for them. It’s all about showing love, intergrity. Being generous.
So I will take up my cross and follow Jesus. I will stand beside him even when it means suffering, I will stand beside him when it means endless joy. The message of Paul’s hardships- it’s about not giving up hope. About being strong, being bold in the face of trouble. It’s about loving Jesus with all your heart. Jesus promises to bless us with everything if we would just take up our cross and follow him.