August 2 — 2 Corinthians 3 — Writing Letters. This chapter contrasts two different kinds of letters. One involves the physical letters “written with the finger of God” (Ex. 31:18) on the stone tablets given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. This Law of God was good (Rom. 7:12) and had “glory,” a word used 13 times in this chapter, but it was limited by not being “permanent” (2 Cor. 3:11). One purpose of the Law was to define sin and point out our sinfulness: “… through the law comes knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:20). In that sense, it was a “ministry of condemnation” (2 Cor. 3:8). The other kind of letter in this chapter is the one God writes on our hearts, “a letter from Christ … written … on tablets of human hearts” (v. 3). This “letter” is not only permanent but its effect is also increasing in glory, “from one degree of glory to another” (v. 18). That growth comes from “beholding the glory of the Lord” (v. 18), which is what we are doing daily as we immerse ourselves in the words of God of the New Testament. We are growing in glory!
August 3 — 2 Corinthians 4 — Living with Clay. As I get older, I have become increasingly aware of the limited and temporary nature of my physical body. When I drop something and have to pick it up, it seems like the floor is much further away than it used to be! Paul emphasizes in this chapter how limited we are physically (“jars of clay”—v. 7) but with the Spirit of God living within us, we draw on divine power so that “our inner self is being renewed day by day” (v. 16). We also have even more to look forward to after this life that will contain “an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (v. 18).
August 4 — 2 Corinthians 5 — Reconciliation. Paul was writing to a church of believers in Corinth, yet he wrote, “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (v. 20). Why would he say that to Christians? Some of them had slipped into patterns of sinful actions and needed to be restored to fellowship with Christ. Reconciliation means “being restored to friendly terms.” Others in Corinth may have been a part of the church only because of their relations, attending because of a mate or parents. Perhaps some were there because they were attracted to the message but hadn’t quite bought into it yet. Jesus initiated reconciliation before we were willing to surrender to Him: “while we were enemies we were reconciled to God” (Rom. 5:10). Do you need to be reconciled to God? Have you drifted away from Him into a sinful action? Have you never really surrendered your life to Him? The urgent offer is given to you in this chapter: “Be reconciled to God.”
August 5 — 2 Corinthians 6 — Yoked Together. Paul speaks in this chapter about our correct attitudes and involvement with both believers and unbelievers. He challenged the believers in Corinth to “widen your hearts” (v. 13) toward him. Some were apparently resisting Paul’s leadership, dragging their feet and not fully wanting to be in the same yoke with him in the gospel ministry work of spiritual plowing, planting, and harvesting. On the other hand, Paul cautioned them about being “unequally yoked with unbelievers” (v. 14). A believer cannot pull together in the same yoke with unbelievers because their purposes and goals are different. One wants to go left while the other pulls to the right. They are not a matched team. This certainly applies to trying to do some kind of ministry together but it also applies to other team-pulling commitments like marriage and business. For marriage, there would be constant conflicts regarding things like how to raise children, what to watch on TV, and how to spend Sundays. For business, conflicts would likely come regarding standards of honesty and how the profits should be used.
August 6 — 2 Corinthians 7 — Joy. In this chapter, Paul more fully expressed the joy he felt when Titus brought the good news from Corinth that things were going well. He said, “we rejoiced … at the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all” (v. 13). Even while Paul was experiencing “no rest … afflicted … fighting … [and] fear” in Macedonia, he said, “I am overflowing with joy” (v. 4). And because of what he had heard about the Corinthians, he said, “I rejoiced still more” (v. 7). He also rejoiced (v. 9) when he heard that although his now-lost “painful letter” (2 Cor. 2:4) had grieved them, it resulted in their repentance. Like Paul, we can experience joy from seeing God work in the lives of others and from seeing genuine joy in others. These are somewhat circumstance-related joys. But we can also experience joy in the midst of circumstances that are painful because our ultimate source of joy comes from the relationship we have with God through Jesus Christ.