2 Corinthians 6:1-10 (NLT)
“As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it.” 2 “For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you. Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.3 We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. 4 In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. 5 We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. 6 We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. 7 We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. 8 We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. 9 We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.”
The words spoken by Paul a couple of thousand years ago are just as applicable today. His passionate plea for recipients of God’s gift of salvation to not ignore or neglect the most precious gift of all still challenges those who read His words.
This gift should impact and radically changes us. It should cause us to introspectfully examine ourselves and impact all we do. We, who have received the gift of forgiveness and acceptance by a Holy God should not dare take such a gift for granted. But life and the world crowd in.
To rejoice in suffering and choose to live a life in the Spirit, putting the flesh to death, will to be celebrated but hose around us. They cannot understand it. They only understand the flesh.
Imagine a Christmas morning with presents labored over, sitting underneath the tree. Each one decorated and wrapped carefully, thoughtfully purchased and planned. And yet those who were given the gifts decided they did not want to open them. What a waste this would be.
And yet many live as if they have never received this salvation. They proclaim that they belong to the Christian faith, but evidence of this statement cannot be found. Evidence like Paul gives in this passage —patience, kindness, sincere love, willingly being mistreated and serving God through it all—seem like attributes of a super human, yet they are the expectations of those who claim Christ. To live as if we had never received salvation means we likely never received or opened the gift at all.
Opening the gift makes us accountable. We have to live a different way. But it is, in fact, not us living, after all. For Christ to be our LORD means we no longer live and choose willingly to die to self and live such radically different lives that His gift is evident within us and all those around are invited by our lifestyle and witness to accept this gift, too.
A gift is not a blessing unless we open it. When we open His gift and let it change us from the inside out, the gift goes on and on.