13 We have the same faithful spirit as what is written in scripture: I had faith, and so I spoke.[a] We also have faith, and so we also speak. 14 We do this because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus, and he will bring us into his presence along with you. 15 All these things are for your benefit. As grace increases to benefit more and more people, it will cause gratitude to increase, which results in God’s glory.
16 So we aren’t depressed. But even if our bodies are breaking down on the outside, the person that we are on the inside is being renewed every day. 17 Our temporary minor problems are producing an eternal stockpile of glory for us that is beyond all comparison. 18 We don’t focus on the things that can be seen but on the things that can’t be seen. The things that can be seen don’t last, but the things that can’t be seen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:13-18, Common English Bible (CEB), The United Methodist Lectionary
In this epistle, the Apostle Paul writes to the church in Corinth, a Greek city-state between Athens and Sparta. Corinth was one of the largest and most important cities in Greece, with a population consisting primarily of Greeks, Romans, and Jews. This rich mixing of cultures meant that the city-state was a hotbed for spiritual activity.
What we see in Paul’s letter throughout the chapter is a theme of encouragement and endurance. During this time, Christians were being persecuted by the Roman Empire. Paul calls the followers of the Christ in Corinth to not become discouraged because they received the privilege to spread the story of Jesus’s ministry in the same way they received God’s mercy and grace.
In so many words, Paul wants his people to speak of Christ’s sacrifice and love that’s both genuine and frank. It’s inferred from the text that some of the Christians in Corinth were trying to convert others by means of ‘deception, secrecy, and “shameful actions”‘, but Paul wanted them to be open and honest about God’s transforming love.
He tells them that if the story of Christ’s love for us is veiled, it’s veiled to those who have hardened their hearts. It is veiled by those who can’t see God working within them and others because of all of the darkness in their lives.
Darkness, perhaps, that obscures their paths not because of their own volition, but because circumstances and events have dimmed the light that not only illuminates the path ahead, but also radiates from within.
In verse 6 of the 4th chapter, Paul explains that God’s light shines out of the darkness, and the God he describes is no doubt the same one that shines in our hearts to this day.
It’s written that ‘as grace increases to benefit more and more people, it will cause gratitude to increase, which results in God’s glory’.
But what is grace? Grace is a form of God’s mercy- God’s forgiveness. Often in my talks with my friends and students, I discover that many carry feelings of guilt and shame, often for situations or events in their lives that were beyond their control.
This causes a separation from themselves and others, separation within themselves, and, naturally, a separation between themselves and God.
Something that took me a long time to realize is that God’s grace is sufficient for us, for power is made perfect in our weakness. For God’s love covers a multitude of sins.
If sin is something that separates us from God, separates us from others, and separates us from ourselves, then when we acknowledge the love, grace, and mercy God has for us, we are made anew. We are no longer defined by those mistakes and misgivings that haunt us.
We then must learn to forgive, and love, ourselves. In this letter, Paul explains that the person that we are on the inside is being renewed each day. In our journeys, there is a continuous cycles of dusk and dawn, hills and valleys. There may be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning.
In the Lord’s Prayer, we petition to God to not only forgive our trespasses, but also those sins committed against us by others. Therefore, I challenge you to try and forgive yourself for all those times you let yourself or others down, for God has forgiven you.
I want to remind you that God has always loved you, and God has loved you before you’ve learned to love yourself.
And if you haven’t learned to love yourself yet, that’s okay too.
Know that you are worthy of grace.
Know that you are worthy of forgiveness.
You are worthy of love.
Peace be with you,