Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. ~ 2 Corinthians 13:11 NLT
You may have found, as I have, that during the pandemic it has been really difficult to plan ahead. There has been so much uncertainty. Paul’s second letter to the believers in Corinth starts with compassion and comfort, reminding them that our Father God is the God of all comfort. This is clearly a people, like ourselves that have been traumatized and challenged. How do they/we move ahead? What goals can they/we set for the future?
Above we find Paul’s last words of admonition addressed to his “dear”, his beloved, friends in Corinth. First, be joyful! They will be filled with joy as they focus on who their God is, what he has done for them, and what he has promised their future will be. We can and must do the same. Thankfulness leads to joy. We have so much for which to be thankful. Let’s focus on that as this summer begins. God’s joy is our strength and shield.
Grow to maturity. We will have many opportunities this summer to return to former activities and passions. Will they help us grow spiritually? Will they align us with God’s desires and plans? Let’s grow in our knowledge and understanding of God and grow closer to him so we can enjoy the pleasures and privileges of being loved by him.
Encourage each other. We cannot grow to maturity in isolation. We need the encouragement of others and their accountability to keep us from wondering off God’s chosen path for us. Who do you have in your life who need words of encouragement, affirmation of their worth and approval of their godly choices? Who will help you keep pointed towards God?
Live in harmony and peace. There is still a lot of contention and anger out there. We have a choice to become peacemakers by refusing to get drawn into discussions and accusations that only bring division. Let’s focus on what we agree on and obey the One who calls us to unity.
THEN the God of love and peace will be with you. Here’s the reward. If we do these things, says Paul, God will be on our side, living with us. His love and favor will surround us as a shield. (Ps.5:12) We can soak away the wounds incurred by living in this fallen world in his compassionate, soothing presence.
Dear friends, be blessed with confident hope as you enter this summer. Decide to do these simple admonitions Paul gave his beloved friends, and enjoy the presence, pleasure and sharing in the purposes of God. You can do it! Be blessed as you grow more beautiful in the Lord. Be filled with his love and peace. Amen.
Mary Sumner ~ May 19, 2021