“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” (2 Corinthians 13:13)
If you had one letter to write to your loved ones before you died, how would it read? No one especially likes to consider the end of our lives but the Apostle Paul lived his life knowing that every letter he wrote to those he loved the most may be his last.
Paul had a calling. Paul’s calling was to take the good news of Jesus Christ to the world as he knew it. He went to many far away cities and established churches. He taught and debated with the goal to help people know His one Master who saved his soul. He loved these just as if they were his own children. Spiritually, he looked at them as his own children in the faith, who needed love and guidance through the daily challenges of life.
In Paul’s 2nd letter to the church in Corinth, it appears that he has visited with them two times and is planning to come again. But he really does not know if he will see them again. This is why every word he writes is so vital and important. He knows they will read and re-read this letter to gain instruction from their “father” in the faith.
At the very end of the letter to the Corinthians in chapter thirteen and verse eleven, Paul writes, “Finally, brothers, rejoice.” Rejoicing is a major emphasis of Paul’s all throughout his letters. Rejoicing or giving thanks is a way for Paul to acknowledge that God is in control of everything – even seemingly difficult trials and circumstances. He uses this valuable space at the end of his letter to remind the Corinthians how important it is to have the perspective of rejoicing.
Then Paul writes, “Become mature…” Again, all throughout Paul’s letters it is apparent that he desires for those who name the name of Christ to grow in spiritual maturity. Maturity comes by correctly responding to the trials facing his readers, which is one of responding in faith. By using the word “Become”, Paul knows this does not happen automatically but over time and through a process of faithfully making good choices.
Next, Paul writes “…be encouraged,…” Society for Christ-followers at that time was not easy. It was tempting to get very discouraged at the godlessness people saw around them. However, Paul reminds them to receive encouragement because there is much to be thankful for. In this, Paul also must mean for each person to give encouragement to others around him or her in the faith.
Three qualities that Paul exhorts his readers to excel in: Rejoicing, Maturity, and Encouragement. These are three qualities that all of us can seek to grow in our own lives as followers of Jesus Christ. Consider going to Him right now and asking Him to pour out His love and grace into your heart and nurture these qualities and more in your life!
William “Carey” Northington of One Master Ministries in Xenia may be contacted at www.OneMaster.org.