2 Corinthians 6:3-13
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.
11 Oh, dear Corinthian friends! We have spoken honestly with you, and our hearts are open to you. 12 There is no lack of love on our part, but you have withheld your love from us. 13 I am asking you to respond as if you were my own children. Open your hearts to us!
What a picture of how to live the Christian life–so that no one will stumble because of us, and no one can find fault with our ministry. That’s the foundation. Then Paul proves himself by his character:
His patience and kindness
The Holy Spirit in him, or the holiness of his spirit
His sincere love
That should be our standard. For me, I need to work on the holiness of my spirit.
What also struck me was his apparent contradiction when he said, “Our hearts ache, but we always have joy.” Joy exists in the midst of heartache. Obviously, his joy is not based on his circumstances. It must be based on his relationship with God.