Of Boasting and Modesty (Thurs, Sept. 16)

The word of the day is “boast.”  Our society sees achievement as a sufficient reason be proud of ourselves.  It sees nothing wrong with football players who do a  dance of exaltation when they score or sack the quarterback.  But today in our reading of 2 Corinthians 10:7-18, Paul joins the Lord who criticized the Pharisee who congratulated himself in the “Parable of the Pharisee and Publican” (Luke 18:11). Boasting is Easy When One Measures Oneself Like the  Pharisee, Paul’s opponents in Corinth are boasting of their superior powers and gifts. Moreover, they are criticizing Paul’s supposed weakness and lack of talent.  But Paul answers with the observation that it is easy to boast when one measures oneself by one’s…

Wielding the Weapons of the Spirit (Wed. Sept. 15)

The word of the day is “weapons.”  If you have ever tried with your own this-worldly strength to defeat the assaults of the devil, then the reading of  2 Corinthians 9:12-10:7 is for you.  In this passage, Paul speaks of the spiritual warfare in which he is engaged.  He relates that he is contending against his opponents who have taken over the congregation at Corinth.  We might think that this is a human struggle over leadership, a rivalry that can only be won by exercising authority, control, and power.  But the apostle maintains that it is a spiritual struggle, a battle to win the hearts, minds, and souls of the church members. Paul Does not Wield the Weapons of the…

The Significance of Paul’s Collection for the Poor in Jerusalem in Paul’s Time and Ours (Tues, Sept. 14)

The word of the day is “collection.”  Generally, we are interested in the message of the scriptures and their application to our lives.  But to fully understand that message, we must know its historical context.  This contextual knowledge requires patient study because the situations are complex and different from our own. In today’s reading of 2 Corinthians 8:16-9:5, we learn some historical details behind Paul’s often-quoted teaching of financial stewardship.  Here we see how careful the apostle was handling his collection for the poor Jewish Christians in Jerusalem.  The Apostle to the Gentiles had spent nearly ten years raising funds to relieve the “Mother Church” in the Holy City.  Now Paul planned to take Titus with him when he delivered…

To Be “Grace-full” as God is Gracious (Mon. Sept. 13)

The word of the day is “grace.”  We usually think of grace as the unmerited favor of God that saves us despite our sinfulness.  But today, we learn another sense of the essential term “grace.”  We will study how Paul uses the word to appeal to the generosity of his flock in Corinth.  And we will discover the logic behind the apostle’s teaching that we should be “grace-full” as God is gracious. The Grace of Generosity In today’s reading of 2 Corinthians 8:7-15, Paul asks the congregation in Corinth to support his pet project, the relief of the poor in Jerusalem who are suffering from a famine.  The apostle states, “As you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge,…

Tradition Must Be Received, Kept, and Passed Along (Sun. Sept. 12)

The word of the day is “delivered.”  Where did Paul get the teachings that he so ardently preached?  Paul demonstrated what could distinguish between the Word of God and his own opinion.  For example, in Corinthians he commands, “Not I, but the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:10).  And soon after he offers his opinion saying, “But to the rest I, not the Lord, say” (1 Corinthians 7: 11).  However, in our reading of 1 Corinthians 15:1-11, Paul refers to doctrines that have the highest divine authority, He declares “…I delivered to you…that which I also received…” (vs. 3). Twice in his letters to the congregation, he emphasizes that what he shared with the church came from Holy Tradition. The first time…

The Cross Puts the Honor of This World to Shame (Sat. Sept. 11)

The word of the day is “shame.”  If we hope to sit at the table of the Kingdom to come, can we also seek to sit in the seats of wisdom, power, honor in the kingdoms of this world?  Today in our reading of 1 Cor 1:26-29,  Paul writes, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty” (OSB vs. 27).  Today, we consider the contrast between two kinds of honor and shame, and we find that we must decide which we will reject and which we will seek. In our reading, Paul defends…

Trust Builds and Restores Relationships (Fri. Sept. 10)

The word of the day is “confidence.”  Love creates relationship.  But the loving bond between us grows in the fertile soil of trust.  Paul affirms this insight in today’s reading of 2 Corinthians 7:10-16.  Paul has changed his feelings toward his congregation in Corinth.  He writes, “Therefore I rejoice that I have confidence in you in everything” (vs. 16). The Greek word for “confidence” is a form of the word meaning “to show boldness” (Strong’s #2292).  That is, the apostle is now encouraged, heartened, and emboldened in his relationship with the Corinthians.  These feelings of secure affection toward another depend on mutual trust.  In a relationship of fidelity, no one needs to be hesitant, uncertain, and guarded–that is, distrustful.  But those who…

The Regret Goes Nowhere and the Sorrow that Leads to Repentance (Thurs. Sept. 9)

The word of the day is “sorrow.”  There are two kinds of regret for the wrong we have done.  In our reading of  2 Corinthians 7:1-10, Paul teaches the  distinction between these two kinds of remorse:  “worldly sorrow “and “godly sorrow.”  The first is feeling sorry for ourselves.  We regret that we have been found to be imperfect and liable to the consequences of our fault.  The second is the the grief of knowing that we have offended our God.  We will learn from our reading that “worldly sorrow” has no remedy, but “godly sorrow” leads to repentance and divine forgiveness. The background of our reading is that Paul had sent his co-worker Titus to check on the situation at…

On Associating with Those Who Are Outside the Circle of Faith (Wed. Sept. 8)

The word of the day is “yoked.”  Despite our intentions, others influence us.  Relationships involve “give and take.”  Thus, if we engage with others who have different beliefs, values, attitudes, and habits than we have, we must be on guard that their outlook will affect us, even unwittingly.  On the other hand, it may be that by our association with them, we might find that we can influence them. Today in our reading of 2 Corinthians 6:11-16, St. Paul admonishes his congregation, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (vs. 11).  Paul’s directive may be  unpopular in our “pluralistic society.”  Yet, he had a point for us to consider as we seek to live faithfully amid the diversity of…

Living in the New Order of the Resurrection (Tues. Sept. 7)

The word of the day is “new.”  We live in an old world whose days and months, and years keep spinning around like a top.  But like the child’s toy, the earth’s rotations will eventually come to an end.  Today in 2 Corinthians 5:15-21, St. Paul speaks of the results of Christ’s death and resurrection.  He writes, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (vs. 17).  The Greek word for creation is derived from the word “kosmos” (Strong’s #2889, 144).  This familiar word refers to the harmonious order of the universe that God has fashioned.  In this sense, the apostle writes that those who are “in…