When my son Drew was a little boy, he had a toy lawnmower. Whenever I cut the grass, he would position himself a few yards away and push his toy mower in tandem with me. He was very serious about it, even though his mower never cut a single blade.
Paul saw himself as a co-laborer with God in the ministry of reconciliation, but this was no child’s play. As God’s ambassador, the apostle made every effort not to give anyone a reason to discredit his ministry (v. 3). The false super-apostles who competed for the Corinthians’ attention boasted of their accomplishments and skills. On the other hand, Paul’s resume is a list of hardships suffered along with proofs of the grace God gave to endure them (vv. 3–10).
Although Paul considered himself to be God’s co-worker in the gospel, he was not a hired hand. Unlike the hired hand that Jesus criticized in John 10:13, who runs away because he “cares nothing for the sheep,” Paul felt a deep affection for the Corinthians. In verses 11–13 he pleads with them the way parents might plead with their children.
Although some of the Corinthians had closed their hearts to Paul, he refused to answer in kind. He continued to keep his heart open to them and risked further rejection by reaching out to them. Paul was able to do this because he recognized that God’s grace had created a window of opportunity that would not always remain open. This was the time of God’s favor. It is the age of grace, when salvation is offered as a gift to those who deserve only wrath. Those who “receive God’s grace in vain” (v. 1) are those who have been invited to receive this gift but dismiss it.
>> God’s offer of grace is not indefinite. The day of salvation will give way to the day of judgment. Do not dismiss His mercy and ignore His grace. You may not have another opportunity tomorrow.
You are merciful. You give us each day as a new opportunity to submit and receive Your forgiveness, for You do not desire any to perish (2 Peter 3:9). We who have been forgiven thank You. Use us to bring more into the fold.