We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defence. We serve God whether people honour us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.2 Corinthians 6:3-10
Paul says, “We live like we do so no one will stumble because of us and so no one will find fault with our ministry.” Why does Paul say that? Clearly, constantly, Paul is coping flak related to his ministry. It is an ongoing refrain because it is an ongoing issue. Note again his comment “we live in such a way that no will find fault with our ministry”. We take the beatings, the hardships, work to exhaustion, endure going without sleep and going without food so people wont find fault with our ministry. But did it succeed? The simple answer is “no”. We serve whether people honour us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. Do you think Paul and his fellow ministers were despised or slandered or is he just setting what he is saying in couplets of good and bad. All through the Corinthian letters is the proof that many were slandering and despising Paul. He says “we are honest yet they call us impostors.” We have no hidden motivation but they attribute all kinds of false motives to us. Yes Paul knew the brokenness that comes from ministry for the Lord. There is a cost to pay to being on the front lines for the gospel.
Verse 7 is an interesting verse over which there is much debate. “We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense.” All manner of interpretations have been put forward for this verse. Some have suggested that in certain circumstances it is appropriate to use weapons to defend oneself. Much has been made of the analogies to spiritual armour and its appropriateness here. Normally the sword was held in the right hand and the shield in the left. Thus the attack from the right side and the defense from the left. In this case it is not a sword mentioned on the right side but weapons of righteousness. Is Paul referring to the breastplate of righteousness? The fact that we are covered by the righteousness of Christ is a means of offensive defense against the malicious attacks of those against Paul’s ministry. It could well be. Clothed in the righteousness of Christ is the best way to counter the persecution, slander and the dishonest allegations of the opposition. Others have suggested fancifully that the right hand signifies prosperity, and the left signifies adversity, suggested that Paul was saying, “We have this armour to defend us both in prosperity and adversity.” Not worth a comment.
What is clear is that those in spiritual ministry will face opposition and the opposition will find fault with us no matter what we do. Even though we may be honest they will accuse us of being impostors and will attribute their motives to us. There is no way to avoid the attacks but when they come Christian leaders must prove themselves by their purity, understanding, patience, kindness, sincere love and honesty. Certainly it is not appropriate for Christian workers to carry arms to silence the opposition as some have suggested. In Luke 22:38 when Jesus said “It is enough”. He is not saying two swords are enough. He is saying, “Enough of that talk.” In Matt 26:52 “Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword.” It’s clear that swords are not an option. Neither are brickbats.
God has called us to pray for each other, not prey on each other.Francis Frangipane
The church’s problem isn’t too many people speaking negatively, it’s too few speaking positively!Bob Gass
Don’t be a duck. Be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd.Wayne Dwyer