Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

I don’t know what order they actually come in, but at its outset, 2 Corinthians appears almost to be an apology from Paul for his previous letter.

I wrote as I did so that when I came I should not be distressed by those who ought to make me rejoice. I had confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy. For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.

Forgiveness for the Sinner
If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

- 2 Corinthians 2:3-11 (NIV)

However for the bulk of his letter Paul, entirely reasonably, sounds like one of those motivational life coaches. There’s a heck of a lot of positive thinking in here. Some of it sounds a bit like wishful thinking, such as his piece about heaven, and his description of the Spirit as a guarantee. These are things that we choose to believe on faith, despite the difficulty of finding evidence to test them against. I believe in both heaven and the Holy Spirit, but I’m aware that they are both beliefs, because I’ve no way proving them to non-Christians.

But hey – everything we believe contains some percentage of faith. I believe that the year 1969 happened, although I’ve only got the word of others for it. Faith.

I believe that yesterday happened, although only because the info in my memory says so. Faith.

At a very young age I chose to believe my five senses. They all corroborate each other, but that might be because those stimuli all come from the same false source. Again, faith.

Everything we believe contains some percentage of faith, more so therefore things that this apparent world lacks evidence for. Except “I think therefore I am.” That’s the only certainty I can think of.

The point I’m making is that in all trust, even trust in God, from our perspective there is some risk of betrayal.

For the record, I believe God. I believe he tells the truth, keeps his promises and will save us. But I also know I might be wrong.

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

- 1 Corinthians 15:19

Anyway, here are some of Paul’s life coach quotes:

We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us.

- 2 Corinthians 1:8b-10a (NIV)

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

- 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV)

For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.

- 2 Corinthians 8:21 (NIV)

Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say.

- 2 Corinthians 12:6 (NIV)

And like all the best motivational speakers, Paul has a smashing life-story to tell…

Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked.

- 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 (NIV)

You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

- 2 Corinthians 9:11 (NIV)

Oops, now he appears to have crossed that fine line into televangelism… ;)


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