After Apostle Paul explained to the Christians from Corint the great calling that we have from God to be His ambassadors and representatives for the people from this earth, in the 6th chapter of the second Epistle to Corinthians he spoke how we should behave and what attitude we should take towards the grace of God, so that we would not receive it in vain. In the beginning, the Apostle gives us his own example and the example of the team he worked with, then he advised the Corinthians, so that no one might receive the grace of God in vain.
Do not use in vain the time offered by God
Once we were strangers and without God in the world, but now we became His children, a chosen nation and a holy priesthood. We do not belong to ourselves anymore, but we and the time our life is made from belong totally to Him. That’s why, we must use our time for God’s honor and for sharing the Gospel with those who do not know about the salvation that comes from Jesus Christ. Apostle Paul begins this chapter so:
And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain– for He says, ”AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.” Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION”. (2 Corinthians 6:1–2)(NASB)
When we came to God and asked for salvation, He did not delay it, he did not tell us to come later, and He didn’t say he didn’t have time for us and many other things that people could tell us. That’s why, as God’s servants and ambassadors, we have to behave as he does and use this “acceptable time” that is now to bring the message of the Gospel to those who do not know it. Do not let any other things from your life become more important than the service in the Gospel. Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation! Go and bring the news of salvation to those who do not know about it.
We give no cause for offense in anything
Because in this case, our service will be defamed, and people will not receive the message that we preach. I faced the following situation for so many times, when I was telling people from the Bible, and they replied: “Maybe I would believe if I didn’t see the hypocrisy of my neighbor, who calls himself a believer…” In this way, those who gave the cause for offense to the people who are around them used and use in vain the grace they had received from God, because this grace can not work in them and in the lives of other people, so that they may be saved. That’s why, the Apostle says about Himself:
Giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things. (2 Corinthians 6:3–10)(NASB)
People have always spoken and will speak against the true disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Savior Himself said: “Woe to you when all men speak well of you”. But God’s grace in vain when people are right in what they say, when we do not live according to the Word of God that we preach to others. What are the things people blame you for? Are they right in what they say? What does God say in His Word regarding the things people blame you for? Are these things that have made or make useless the grace you have received from God?
Let your heart opened wide
Apostle Paul used a figure of speech when he addressed to the Christians from Corint and he compared the hearts with houses when he said:
Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened wide. You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections. Now in a like exchange–I speak as to children–open wide to us also. (2 Corinthians 6:11–13)(NASB)
If you read both epistles of Paul to Corinthians, it is easy to understand that Christians from this city, who were brought to Christ by Paul and were taught and grown by him, as a mother grows up her children, they were influenced by evil people to despise their teacher and their spiritual parent. But, no matter how they behaved, Paul says that his heart is opened wide for them, that means he has more love for them and doesn’t want to lose them or the relationship he has had with them. In order not to use in vain the grace received from God, we have to learn to save the relations when some unpleasant things appear. In fact, the ministry of the Gospel advances only through the relation we have with God and the relations we have with each other. If we break these relations, or if we do not maintain them and restrain our hearts for others, the grace of God that we have received is used in vain. These broken relations are known by other people too and they impede the light of the Gospel come to them.
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers
Here Paul uses another figure of speech and he compare our work with that of the oxen that yoke. It is important to yoke two similar pack animals, so that the work may be efficient. But if it is yoked a horse together with an ox, both of them will suffer. The horse is taller than the ox. One will draw upside and the other one will draw downside. Then, the ox is slower the the horse. One will draw forward and the other one will stay backward. There will be no efficiency, these pack animals will make each other suffer. Here is why apostle Paul writes:
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial (the lord of the woods, or another name for Satan), or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ”I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE. “Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord. ”AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN; and 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. (2 Corinthians 6:14–18)(NASB)
It is not a suitable yoke when one of the pack animals draws a direction and the second one is bound to walk the same direction that the stronger or more stubborn pack animal walks. That’s why the Bible says not to have any dealings with people that can draw us from light to darkness, from righteousness to unrighteousness, from faith to faithlessness, from Christ to idols or to Satan. In this way, if we accepted such dealings, or relations, the grace that we have received is useless in us, and it brings no more fruit for God. Who are your friends? How do they influence you? What interests do you have in common? Maybe they influenced you to speak and to think more about money, marriage, career, etc. than about the things of God? For those who do not know God and continue to live in darkness, this is a fleshly state, but it is not the same with you. If you let the received grace from God work in you, then you will go to your friends and tell them the Word of the truth. Go today, because today is the day of their salvation.
Do not use in vain the grace you have received from God!
Translated by Felicia Djugostran