Corinthians – Belief and Behavior
Randy and I have spent the last year remodeling our home for better function and efficiency, for beauty and practicality. It is our investment, our legacy, so we wanted to build what would last. In the process of this major “do it yourself” some things we tried didn’t look or feel right so we changed and adjusted the plan to fit the bigger picture. For construction beyond our abilities we had to call in professional help in some phases of the work.
Many moments came when we would have to stop, take a step back, and evaluate to make sure we were heading in the right direction for completion. Most times, we knew when it fit and when what we were doing did not fit. We were open to redirection and correction of the work to get to our final goal of completion. We still ask ourselves, is the work ever really completed? We still think about what we could improve next!
In doing all of this, we had to purchase more tools. Isn’t that the case every time you do something new? There is always a new tool you need to get the job done well. You try the tools you have and relied on in the past to get by, but you discover quickly that those tools aren’t working. You end up finding and purchasing just the right tool to perfect the work you began.
I think about all of this as Paul writes to the Corinthians about the remodel of life…a life shaped by Christ. Our precious lives are not DYI’s (do it yourself), for we need GOD and HIS tools to shape our lives into the new creations He wants us to be. Paul is committed to helping, not hurting; of building up, not tearing down. Paul passionately proclaims;
“We use our God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.”
“Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.”
In the work of remodeling our very lives, we must often step back and ask the Holy Spirit to help us evaluate and make course corrections. We must allow God and His tools (mercy, unconditional love, grace, compassion, His Word with how to’s, His Holy Spirit’s help, wisdom, insight and understanding to name a few) to work out his salvation in us. We cannot do all the work ourselves. We must rely on God (the Professional) to do the work beyond our human abilities and then step back to see the results! Then we praise Him. We stand in awe of what God does in and through our lives. We are amazed at the work! HE gets all the credit!
“Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.” (Phil 2:12)
2 Corinthians 10, The Message
Tearing Down Barriers
1-2 And now a personal but most urgent matter; I write in the gentle but firm spirit of Christ. I hear that I’m being painted as cringing and wishy-washy when I’m with you, but harsh and demanding when at a safe distance writing letters. Please don’t force me to take a hard line when I’m present with you. Don’t think that I’ll hesitate a single minute to stand up to those who say I’m an unprincipled opportunist. Then they’ll have to eat their words.
3-6 The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.
7-8 You stare and stare at the obvious, but you can’t see the forest for the trees. If you’re looking for a clear example of someone on Christ’s side, why do you so quickly cut me out? Believe me, I am quite sure of my standing with Christ. You may think I overstate the authority he gave me, but I’m not backing off. Every bit of my commitment is for the purpose of building you up, after all, not tearing you down.
9-11 And what’s this talk about me bullying you with my letters? “His letters are brawny and potent, but in person he’s a weakling and mumbles when he talks.” Such talk won’t survive scrutiny. What we write when away, we do when present. We’re the exact same people, absent or present, in letter or in person.
12 We’re not, understand, putting ourselves in a league with those who boast that they’re our superiors. We wouldn’t dare do that. But in all this comparing and grading and competing, they quite miss the point.
13-14 We aren’t making outrageous claims here. We’re sticking to the limits of what God has set for us. But there can be no question that those limits reach to and include you. We’re not moving into someone else’s “territory.” We were already there with you, weren’t we? We were the first ones to get there with the Message of Christ, right? So how can there be any question of overstepping our bounds by writing or visiting you?
15-18 We’re not barging in on the rightful work of others, interfering with their ministries, demanding a place in the sun with them. What we’re hoping for is that as your lives grow in faith, you’ll play a part within our expanding work. And we’ll all still be within the limits God sets as we proclaim the Message in countries beyond Corinth. But we have no intention of moving in on what others have done and taking credit for it. “If you want to claim credit, claim it for God.” What you say about yourself means nothing in God’s work. It’s what God says about you that makes the difference.
“What you say about yourself means nothing in God’s work. It’s what God says about you that makes the difference.”
And we’ll know when it fits and is right with the help of God’s Holy Spirit, the best tool for the work!
Dear Heavenly Father,
We have tried many times to do it all ourselves when Your tools are right at hand. You have paid the price. The tools are ready for us to use. We repent of trying to reshape our lives by ourselves. We fall at your feet this morning and ask for help. Take over the work of cleaning the “job site” and remodeling and reshaping our lives to be all you intended for us to be as your new creations. Transform me. Transform Your church. Transform the world.
In Jesus Name, Amen