Pass the Test
Life is hard, we all know this to be true. However, there are some trials and tribulations we fight repeatedly because we do not use discernment or our God-given ability to fight these situations using the Spirit of God rather than our own strength, knowledge, and might. Today we will examine 2 Corinthians 13, specifically verses 5-13, and how these words from Paul can help us to not only examine ourselves but point us back to the one who will help us overcome every situation.
In a quick synopsis of 2 Corinthians 13, Paul is talking to the Church in Corinth as well as Christians in the surrounding areas. He is addressing them as an agitated parent would speak to their child. It is as though he is saying, “Look, this is the third time I’ve had to have this conversation with y’all. Please get it together. Act like the people that you say you are.” I am not sure about y’all, but growing up, I had the type of mom, we knew not to play with and not to get in trouble at school. We knew that if she had to leave work to get us from school for some nonsense, it would be a problem. In this text, Paul is “laying down the law”. Through his verbiage, he insinuates that not only does he have the authority and the power, but that if he must come back to Corinth, he will “put my foot down” and no one is going to like that.
Paul instructs them to “Test yourselves to see if you are in the Faith. Examine yourselves.” It is not so much that you must literally test yourself or put yourself in bad situation, because the world will do that on its own. The devil’s job is literally to present things and tempt you with things that may kill, steal, and destroy, which is the opposite of what God has commanded us to do. Paul is saying, when those problems arise, use it as a test. Use the issues of daily life to hold the mirror to yourself. Examine yourself and say ask yourself if you are responding with the spirit or the flesh. He then follows that up with something that I at times read like a taunt. He says, “Do you not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you? -- unless you fail the test.” I love that Paul can go from talking to them like an authoritative to that annoying kid on the playground. “I thought you were a Christian; did you fail the test? Are you not acting like one? Are you a false Claimer? You said you are a Christian. You have it in your Facebook profile. You’ve told everyone your church affiliation, but when someone curses you, when you’re cut off in traffic, when your good friend stabs you in the back, when someone breaks your heart, when you lose the job, you’ve been faithful to, when someone lies and throws dirt on your name, when you lose your loved one, when life is literally putting you through the ringer, how are you responding?” Ladies and Gentlemen, this is our test as believers.
I believe this to be one of our biggest tests because if I believe in Jesus Christ in the totality of it, then that means that I believe that God the father loved me so much that he sent his son Jesus down to earth to be both equally God and man to teach, bless, heal, deliver, and die. But not only did he die, he was raised up from the dead by the power of God on the third day and after being on the earth for forty more days ascended into heaven, but not before promising a comforter to help us through daily life. And being that Jesus is Lord, he kept his promise and sent the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost and now every person who believes in their heart and confesses with their mouth that Christ is the risen Lord not only has access to eternal life but has the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of them. And if I have the Holy Spirit dwelling in me, I should be showing some evidence of change, conviction, and turning away from sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar and turning to or growing in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We must examine ourselves.
When we are holding this spiritual mirror up to ourselves, examining ourselves, it’s not so much that we should find perfection, but that we should find the type of progression that is only obtainable by the power of the Holy Spirit. Failing the test is different from getting a wrong answer. As humans we often struggle with this but getting a passing grade doesn’t mean that you got everything correctly, it means that you got most of it right, and are still awarded for it. That is the beauty of the grace of God. Therefore, we go to God. Not only is he the only perfect one, but it is by his strength that we become more like the original image he designed us to be. While we’re on the subject, it is important to acknowledge that although we were born of flesh, that does not give any Christian the right to sin vicariously because you “know” you will be forgiven. The bible debunks this belief in Romans 6. As Christians, we are followers NOT fans of Christ, meaning that we are striving to live like him rather than live like the world.
Verse 7 reads, “But we pray to God that you do nothing wrong – not that we may appear to pass the test, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear to fail.”
We pray to God because he is the way, truth, and the light. If he is all of this, then the things that he’s commanded us to do is right. If I pray to God, I am in communion and in prayer with him. If I am praying to without ceasing, then I will deepen my relationship with him. If we have a deep relationship and an unbreakable bond then, I will know the voice of God. Knowing the voice of God will help me to discern what is right and wrong even when the world is telling me that what is wrong is right.
The next verse speaks on doing things for the truth rather than against the truth. There is no such thing as my truth and your truth, as society would have us to believe. There is but one truth and if it doesn’t align with THE TRUTH, it is false and more than likely in vain. As previously said, Paul is writing this to the church while away from them so that when he returns, the church will be good and right. These words were written years ago but are still relevant to us today. Many of us have heard God’s word. We’ve read it, he’s sent us signs through people and various things, yet here we have Paul saying, GET IT TOGETHER! When I grew up, the older folk would say, “Act like you got some sense.” In this case, Paul is saying, “Act like you got some Jesus!”
He closes with hope and giving them hope. He knows that they have messed up but chooses to leave them by encouraging them and positively instructing them. He says, Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice. -- Be of good cheer. Have hope. Become mature and be encouraged. -- Meaning as you grow in age, as you grow by the day, grow spiritually. Every day the goal should be to be more like Christ. We talked about test earlier, every day you should be striving to get another question right. Be encouraged, don’t lose hope. Keep your faith, hold to truth, because the world will tell you lies. They would have you to believe that you are the only one that matters. It should be your way or the highway and to dismiss all who disagree with you, when Paul tells us to be of the same mind. -- As brothers and sisters in Christ, we should be on one accord. When a person is walking, different members have different functions, but the goal of the entire body is to put one foot in front of the other to create forward movement. The arms may sway, the knees may bend, the feet may move up and down, but the body is moving forward. You may get people to church by word of mouth, I may do so by passing out flyers, if we are both getting people in the door to hear the word of God, does strife really needed to be created? I believe that in this day in age, more than ever when the world is watching the church, it is important to keep this in mind. We need making conscious choices about how we act and interact with one another before we go into the world. It is essential that if I am the foot, I continue to go move up in down so that the knee can bend back and forth. As a matter of fact, if I communicate with the knee, we may find out that if I move the foot like so or like that, it makes it easier for the knee to bend, which leads me to Paul’s next point.
Be at peace. -- Jesus is the prince of peace, meaning if he has it, he can gift it, but that requires us to cast our cares on him. Don’t cause unnecessary conflict and strife. There is already enough opposition outside of the church so why create chaos within it. Do this, strive for this and the love of God and the peace will be with you. Peace doesn’t mean you have all the answers, nor does it mean you hold all the cards. I am in the wilderness in more ways than one right now, but I have peace knowing that the same God that gave me clarity and direction before will do it again.
Greet one another with a holy kiss. -- If we’re being honest, some of us don’t even want to greet one another with a holy hello. This is where heart posture comes into play. There’s a big difference between a kiss of deception and a holy kiss. Judas had every intention of betraying Jesus when he kissed him, using the kiss to show the soldiers who Jesus was. Don’t be deceitful, live, in love. A holy kiss is an ancient Christian tradition that is physically pure and morally blameless. It was a common custom in most nations for people to kiss each other at meeting or parting to display their love, sincere affection, and friendship for each other. It’s referred to as holy to denote the difference in it and a romantic kiss. To this day, people greet one another by kissing in some form or fashion. All the saints should greet one another. If you’re an “ain’t”, I can’t hold you accountable.
Paul closes with what is known as the trinitarian benediction “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit with you all.” Today I leave you with this, may you give the grace that has been given to you, may you love like the Father loves you and may you fellowship with one another as the Holy Spirit does with you.
Go with God. Grow in Grace. Live in Love.
- Demetria LaDia aka Meach Preach
2 corinthians 13: CSB bible: Youversion. CSB Bible | YouVersion. (n.d.). Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://my.bible.com/bible/1713/2CO.13.CSB.
The church at corinth by Edward Adams. Church at Corinth. (n.d.). Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/places/related-articles/church-at-corinth.
Holman Reference. (2019). The Tony Evans Bible commentary: Advancing god's kingdom agenda.
Moss, T. (2017, October 18). A guide to kissing etiquette around the world. Condé Nast Traveler. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://www.cntraveler.com/story/a-guide-to-kissing-etiquette-around-the-world.
Romans 6: CSB bible: Youversion. CSB Bible | YouVersion. (n.d.). Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://my.bible.com/bible/1713/ROM.6.CSB.
Unsplash. (n.d.). Beautiful free images & pictures. Unsplash. Retrieved December 8, 2021, from https://unsplash.com/. Original Images: Kelly Sikkema Serrah Galos Brett Jordan Kira auf der Heide.