Paul is undoubtedly the apostle and teacher, yet he still appeals as an equal. He refers to himself as a “fellow worker.” He is asking them to let the grace of God be with them always. If they or we choose not to accept God’s ways, then they and we would be denying the grace of God in their and our lives. The suffering of Jesus on the cross would be in vain for us.
Paul is pointing out the importance of the present. “Now is the acceptable time. Now is the day of salvation!” (v2) Paul says. But Paul is not just talking about a slogan, One Day at a Time. He is talking about how we are to live our lives. Each day, we are simply to give our lives to Jesus. Each day we must do His holy will in our lives. The salvation He offers us comes every day when we give ourselves to Him on a daily basis. There might be a day when we made our faith our own and have come to know Jesus and His love for us. The day when hopefully we responded and gave our “Yes” to Him. But that “Yes” should have been a one-day, one-time event. Every day we must get up and make the willed decision to follow Him. By following Him, Jesus saves us from our own desires and designs. Jesus saved us 2000 years ago when He died on the cross for us. That grace won for us becomes active in our lives when we are obedient to His will, thus saving us every day as we go through life. We look forward to the definitive salvation when we pass from this life and are judged kindly.
We do have to live our lives every day for Christ, but that does not happen if we do not take the time to think about what that means and still choose to follow Him. Everybody must come to a day to choose to follow Jesus. If you have not taken the time to do this, I invite you to do it now.
Paul goes on to avoid giving offense. The purpose of this is to be a stumbling block for those who would believe in God’s ways. It is not out of weakness that He avoids giving offense. He must live as Christ would have him live so that there would be no illusion of who Christ is. This means sacrifice. But with the sacrifice that he makes, joy comes. This sets up the paradox that Paul lists (4-10). God, in His goodness, rewards those who dedicate themselves to Him.
We get afraid and unsure about giving ourselves to God. Paul shares his experience of God’s goodness despite all the trials he goes through for serving God. The graces seem to outweigh the poverty, slander, lies, and even physical harm done to him. The graces he receives even give him more confidence and outright boldness to preach the truth and live it out daily. He has more joy now than before he converted. He is not just giving the men of Corinth his witness of how God is good. Paul is telling us now today that God is worthy of our trust. That God will give us the grace we need today to give our lives to Him. Are you willing to open your heart to Jesus?
Paul finishes with reminding them that God as He really is, is quite different than what any other religion teaches or what any other human supposes. God has nothing to do with that. God is God and He has revealed Himself in Jesus as a matter of fact. As Christians, and even more so as Catholics, we do not go to other sources to tell about God or the Bible. Going to other religions is going backwards and into sin and darkness. The experience of God’s grace is lost and the paradox described earlier is no more. It is only by God’s grace that we go and that we receive all that is good. Anything else is false, will lead us astray, and leave us empty and confused. We look to our Lord Jesus and our Heavenly Father to bless us, guard us, and guide us always. For those who have decided to give themselves to Jesus, we look forward to the graces He will give us every day.