John D. Barry
Joshua 21:1–22:9; 2 Corinthians 13:1–10; Psalm 59:1–17
Before advising others on how they should act, self-examination is always necessary. When the Corinthians questioned the authenticity of Paul and his colleagues’ ministry (which is ironic, since he had planted their church), Paul says to them: “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize regarding yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you, unless you are unqualified?” (2 Cor 13:5).
None of us are ready for the ministry that Jesus has for us because we’re not worthy of the great gift of salvation He has offered. We are meant to find our identity and calling in Christ and to lead out of the gifts He has given us (see 1 Cor 12). For this reason, Paul makes this claim:
“And I hope that you will recognize that we are not unqualified! Now we pray to God that you not do wrong in any way, not that we are seen as approved, but that you do what is good, even though we are seen as though unqualified. For we are not able to do anything against the truth, but rather only for the truth” (2 Cor 13:6–8).
Paul is bound to what Christ has called him to do, which is why he often calls himself a slave for Christ (e.g., Rom 1:1). Because of His great sacrifice, Paul sees the only natural action is living fully—with his entire being—for Jesus. It is in Christ that Paul finds his strength, even in the difficulties he faces with the Corinthians: “For we rejoice whenever we are weak, but you are strong, and we pray for this: your maturity” (2 Cor 13:9).
The psalmist also has a plea for times when he faces opposition from others: “Deliver me from my enemies, O my God. Protect me from those who rise up against me.… For look, they lie in wait for my life. The mighty attack against me, not because of my transgression or my sin, O Yahweh. Without guilt on my part they run and ready themselves. Awake to meet me and see” (Psa 59:1, 3–4).
The Bible is full of understanding and insight for moments of struggle. And we have a great Savior who can sympathize with our struggles (Heb 4:14–16). It’s not a matter of if we as Christ followers will experience unrighteous opposition; it’s a matter of when. May we have the type of faithfulness that Paul and the psalmist did. May we plea to the good God who loves us. May we speak only His truth.
What opposition are you currently experiencing? How would God have you to answer it? How should you be praying to Him?
This article was originally posted in Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan.
John D. Barry is the CEO and founder of Jesus’ Economy, a nonprofit dedicated to creating jobs and churches in the developing world. To empower the extreme poor, Jesus’ Economy also has an online fair trade shop. John is also the general editor of Faithlife Study Bible and the former editor-in-chief of Bible Study Magazine. Learn more about John’s work with Jesus’ Economy at www.jesuseconomy.org.