As we conclude our study, we hope you are encouraged to make a new start in Christ this year. As believers, we are given a new way to live and a new message to share. In Christ, we are given a new identity and a new future. Most importantly, we are transformed into a “new-er” version of ourselves. Paul concludes this message on newness, with a particular exhortation for those struggling with their new identity in Christ.
In verse one, Paul contends that grace is in vain when Christians do not live in harmony with one another. He stresses that “now is the time” because of the redeeming and reconciliatory work Christ did on the cross. Paul made it a point to live his life with integrity so the gospel message would not be discredited. Nevertheless, people opposed him and were offended by his message (v. 3). But that never stopped him, nor should it deter Christians today.
Paul lists a variety of difficulties he encountered while being an ambassador of the gospel (vv. 4–10). The Corinthians could have been encouraged or disheartened when reading Paul’s long list of hardships. But, Paul wanted them to know upfront what he had endured for the gospel. He asks them to “open wide” their hearts as he has done (vv. 11–13). Sadly, they struggled to show their deep love for Paul because they loved the world and themselves too much. He wanted them to be honest with themselves just as he was honest with them. Similarly, God wants us to be honest with our “new-er” selves daily to make sure we abandon the cravings of this world and live for Him alone.
>> What can you do this year, to make sure you are daily committing yourself to the Lord’s will for your life? Open your heart to follow God’s leading. And then, note a few takeaways from this month’s study
that will impact you in the year ahead.