Through Honor and Dishonor

Wednesday, June 1, 2016, 10:36 p.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “All Through the Night.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 2 Co. 6:3-7:1 (ESV).

As Servants of God (6:3-10)

We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

We, who are in Christ Jesus by faith, are all servants of God and ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth, and we are to be our Lord’s witnesses throughout the earth, and to make disciples of Christ of people of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything Christ commanded us. As well, we are to proclaim the excellencies of him “who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9). Thus, we all need to watch our lives carefully so that by our conduct we do nothing to discredit the gospel of salvation or the cause of Christ in the world, which is to bring people to salvation.

Instead, we are to live such lives in this world that we will end up being hated and persecuted for our faith and testimonies for Christ because we don’t compromise with the world of sin, but we live as though we are separate from (different, unlike) this sinful world because we are becoming like Jesus. And, because we live separated lives, and we follow our Lord in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives, even those who call themselves fellow believers in Christ will think us strange and will try to get us to participate with them in ungodly activities or in twiddling our days away in useless and meaningless activities so that we appear more “normal.” And, if we resist their suggestions, and we remain committed to following our Lord in obedience, we may be slandered against and mistreated because we don’t join in with those who do not honor God for who he is.

Yet, we are not to fear their mistreatment or their opinions of us or even what they might say about us to others. We are to remain true to God and to his word, to live in purity and righteousness, and to be truth tellers and ministers of the gospel. We must realize that our lives are not our own to be lived for our own self-pleasure, for we were bought back for God with the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus is our Lord (owner-master) and we are his servants. Our lives are to be lived for him, doing what he has called us to do. And, we are to make no compromises with the world of sin. We are to live such godly and holy lives among the people that there would be no question as to where our loyalties lie. Our lives are to be living examples of what it means to be crucified with Christ so that we no longer live but it is Christ who lives in us, and of what it means to walk by faith and in the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. Then, no real fault could be found with our ministry.

Open Your Hearts (6:11-13)

We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections. In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.

God has given us his word to speak his truths to our hearts and to teach us what all he has for us and commands us to do. He has loved us freely, and has given his grace to us although we are so undeserving of such grace. Yet, not everyone is a willing recipient of such love and grace. They may be willing to accept God’s forgiveness for their sins and the freedom from eternal damnation and the promise of heaven when they die, but they may not be willing to receive the fullness of his love and grace into their lives and to appropriate it to their lives (lifestyles). In other words, God’s grace is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). To truly receive his love and grace into our lives, thus, means that we turn from our lifestyles of sin, and we choose to walk with him in obedience and in surrender to his will for our lives.

Be Separate from Them (6:14-7:1)

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.

The phrase “unequally yoked” is “used figuratively of Christians wrongly committed to a partner holding very different values (priorities), i.e. that run contrary to faith (the kingdom of God)” – A partner is a spouse, a companion, a friend, and/or an associate; “someone who participates in an activity or game with another person” (M-W Dictionary). So, we are not supposed to enter into marriage or a business partnership or a close friendship with someone who is an unbeliever or who lives like an unbeliever, i.e. who does not share the same spiritual values and biblical convictions as we share, and who lives contrary to what we believe and practice.

If we are already married to one who is an unbeliever, I don’t believe scripture teaches that we are to divorce that person, for we can be a light to him or her for the gospel. Yet, we should not participate with that person in what is ungodly, unholy and sinful. Also, we should not knowingly enter into such a union, for there can be no fellowship between light and darkness. We should also not enter into business partnerships or close relationships (friendships) with people who live contrary to God’s word. Instead, we should come out from among them and be separate and not get caught up in what is ungodly, unholy or in what is just a general waste of time and which pulls us away from service to our Lord and to our fellow human beings. In other words, we should not live for what is self-serving and for our own self-pleasure, but we should live holy lives, pleasing to God, which is our reasonable and acceptable worship of him.

When we decide that we want to live for our Lord and not for ourselves and not for self-pleasure, and we make the commitment to live separated lives away from the world of sin and to God, to walk in his holiness and righteousness, we will be hated and persecuted. We will be rejected, made fun of, mocked, slandered, and treated unkindly. We may even face pressure to join in with them in their sinful and/or wasteful activities. Yet, we must choose Jesus, and we must choose to walk in holiness and not to spend our days on this earth doing what pleases us, but we should live for our Lord and do what pleases him. When we do, and we are persecuted, we are blessed, and we should rejoice. We must also remember that God is with us, and that he will never leave us or forsake us, so we can rest in his love.

All Through the Night / An Original Work / December 7, 2013

Based off Various Scriptures

Blessed are you when you’re persecuted
Because of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Blessed are you when people insult you,
And falsely say what leads folks to doubt.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
Great in the heavens. You’re not alone.

When you are persecuted in one place,
Flee to another. God will be there.
You will be hated by all the nations
Because you testify of God’s grace.
Many will seize you and persecute you,
And put to death the foll’wers of Christ.

Yet, do not fear what humans may do to you,
For I’m with you all through the night.
I tell you, love your enemies with my love,
And forgive as I forgave you.
Pray for those who do evil against you.
Rest in my love and grace from above.