Read 2 Corinthians 6:1-13
Paul is encouraging the Corinthians to be who they are created to be, loving and generous. We can tell that Paul saw these qualities in the Corinthians when he visited them, and also sees these qualities in their actions to forgive and reinstate the member who had so egregiously hurt the community. He does not want them to stop at this action, but keep spreading their love and generosity beyond the body, right there, right then. They did not need to wait for Paul’s next visit or any new sign of the Holy Spirit. The day of salvation was already there, so the acceptable time for action was upon them.
Paul quotes Isaiah because Isaiah was speaking to a people facing an invading army. They didn’t have time to wait for another savior. God had already given them everything they needed to be saved. They just needed to be the faithful people God had called them to be all along:
Thus says the LORD: In a time of favor I have answered you, on a day of salvation I have helped you; I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages; —Isaiah 49:8
Like the Judeans, the Corinthians already had everything they needed. They already had kind and generous spirits. They had Christ’s words through Paul. They knew how to forgive well. They had privilege and resources other churches didn’t even have. There was nothing to stop them from living out the life Christ desired for them, and doing it well.
Paul lists his own faithful actions, not as a boast about his faithfulness, but as examples of things the Corinthians were also fully capable of doing as faithful servants of God. It is a concrete list of things they might do or face, beyond forgiveness, faithfulness, becoming humble, and giving generously. Paul shows the wide range of faithful acts one might do in service of Christ: “through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech…” (2 Corinthians 6:5-7a). Many of these things the Corinthians have witnessed in Paul already, and none of them are beyond the abilities of their community to do as well. Paul uses the Isaiah quote as encouragement – the Judeans were able to remain safe and hold onto Jerusalem because of their faithful and immediate action.
The day of salvation has not passed, today is an acceptable time. The day of reconciliation has not passed. Don’t wait another minute. Don’t let God’s grace be in vain. Enjoy the benefits of God’s grace now. Act boldly and faithfully to love the world today.
Reflect: Have you felt a call on your heart and mind to do something bold in the name of God? What is stopping you from acting on that call right now?
Devotion from A Heart for Reconciliation by Megan Dosher Hansen and Michael Rinehart