2 Corinthians 6:1 As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For He says, “In the time of My favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. 3 We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. 12 We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. 13 As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also.
As we read Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, we see that indeed they were a troubled congregation. Just one example of their problems was with spiritual gifts, how the Corinthians were obsessed with one thinking one gift was the best and not seeing that all gifts were to work together for the common good. They were in fact, more interested in themselves than they were in the one who—at great expense—brought the message of the Gospel to them!
Paul listed some of what he went through to bring them that saving Good News—to bring them out of being pagans destined for hell, to being in a religion, which brought no peace of mind, rather to the only one to give them the joy of their salvation and peace of mind. “We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work…”
It is not as though he is bragging, nor wanting people to feel sorry for him, but to try to get them to understand what it took for them to receive the Gospel. The gospel did not just float in on thin air but it came because St Paul had gone through may hardships to bring it.
I don’t know of any pastor or missionary who went through all of what he did. Yet we know the early church fathers in the first three centuries went through as much and more. Then too in the Soviet Union as Communism replaced the Russian church. Consider also how Muslims, especially the radicals, treat Christians.
I could say a few things about myself and some for the hardships my family and I endured to be in the ministry as opposed to had I stayed in the missile industry. I’ll simply say that with a two-year degree I made 3x more than I did in my first congregation and at that after 6 more years of college and seminary.
St Paul did a little bragging and he said it was foolish,
But whatever I gave up was little compared to some of my classmates. One was an atomic physicist, one the personal manager of Del Monte Foods, one a lawyer, and another a psychiatrist. They were called from these lucrative positions to serve as pastors.
Now let’s look at this part of our text:
Do not take God’s grace in vain. Don’t take God for granted. Don’t presume because of the Gospel, you can live like a heathen. Don’t presume that you can put off for tomorrow what needs to be done today. Get rid of your “roundtoits”!
- You do not know when their time is up.
- You do not know when your time is up and you may be the only person that this unsaved person would listen to.
There were at least three people who (for whatever reason) let me know that I was the only one they would listen to. And you know that there are some people you have an “in” with, that no one else has. Because of their personality and because of your personality, you “jell” together—like no one else could.
Finances: “After I get this mortgage paid off, then I will… tithe, give money to this charity, help this person out.”
Time: “After I retire, then I will serve on the church board.” After this—then I will do that. Some of it makes sense, some of it is right, but some of it is just plain putting off for tomorrow what you need to do today.
Back in the 80s a lot of our churches were into “Church Growth.” That was a scientific way of looking into how some congregations grew by leaps and bounds, while others were stagnant or even were on the decline. One of their findings was you only have one chance to make a first impression. Sounds obvious, but some congregations never seemed to understand this, allowing their grounds or buildings to fall into disrepair—turning people off before they even entered! Not doing what they could to welcome their visitors. Not having a service that outsiders could follow. I recall in the old days our service would use “Page 15” and some visitors would be trying to sing Hymn #15!—upon leaving saying they could not follow our service! This was before we started using bulletin services!
Then too “Church Growth” had all kinds of suggestions on how and when to make calls on visitors and or delinquents. These suggestions they had gathered through surveys of those both turned off and turned on. Their bottom line was to act quickly!
“You know I really appreciate the way Mr. Smith is such a great member, warm and friendly, outgoing! I think I’ll call him up and tell him how much I appreciate him.” “Say didn’t you read the email a few days ago. Mr. Smith passed away.”
“My friend said he really liked our church when he visited here a few weeks ago. I think I will invite him for next week’s service.” But he joined another church which had already showed interest in him. (Some pastor, or church member called upon him right away and let him know they appreciated his visit.)
“My next-door neighbor has been in the hospital. I ought to cut His grass.” But then you wonder—what is that noise? Another neighbor is already cutting his grass. We do not know what tomorrow will bring. We do not even know what the next hour will bring, but our text assures us that we have “now.”
You can look in any Bible concordance—in fact, the most comprehensive one, and not find the word “roundtoit.” But you can read in many instances where there is a sense of urgency.
Now I have to emphasize that we do what we do—not to “get saved” but because we are saved. As Ephesians says,
Our Lord Jesus took our sins upon Himself and paid for them on the Cross. When He said,
When someone does something special for us, we want to repay. When we really realize the Gospel, we want to do as Luther said, “For all which it is my duty, to thank and praise serve and obey Him.”
Ephesians said we were saved (again from Luther) without and merit or worthiness in us. But it goes on to say,
Even now I believe the Holy Spirit is laying someone on your heart. When will you put away your roundtoit and follow His leading? Amen!
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