READ: 2 Corinthians 2:5–3:6
THINK: As a Christian, have you ever wondered how people can be so resistant toward and even repulsed by the very things that bring you the greatest joy and fulfillment? It all depends on which side of the spiritual fence you’re on. What you know as true freedom and salvation, another person may mistake for fanaticism or slavery because they don’t know God or understand His purpose for their lives. Perhaps you recall what it was like to look at the things of God from the other side of your relationship with Christ. Let your sense of renewed life, ultimate purpose and assured victory inspire you to reach out to those who may still unknowingly see God as their enemy. They may already be watching to see if what you have is really worth crossing the line of resistance and giving their lives for.
RESPOND: How would you describe the New Testament pattern of discipline for those who commit serious offenses affecting the life and reputation of the church? (See 2:6 note.) In what way do churches fail God and their people if they tolerate sin and don’t enact appropriate discipline among members? Why is it important to forgive a truly repentant church member (v. 11)? What’s one of our key defenses against Satan’s spiritual attacks? (See 2:11 note.) What is Paul picturing by referring to God leading His people in a “triumphal procession”? (See 2:14-16 note.) How is “the aroma of Christ” (v. 15) different “among those who are being saved” than it is to “those who are perishing”? What typically determines how a person reacts to Christ’s message? How and why do some people “peddle the word of God for profit”? (See 2:17 note.) In what way are Christ’s followers a letter, “known and read by everyone”? How do Jesus’ followers relate to God’s law differently than did the ancient Israelites? (See 3:3 note.) What does it mean that God makes Jesus’ followers “competent as ministers of a new covenant”? (See 3:6 first note.) How do God’s law and Spirit work together to bring someone into a personal relationship with Jesus? (See 3:6 second note.)
PRAY: Ask Jesus to keep you alert to Satan’s schemes, deceptions and attacks. Thank Jesus for the victory He gives you over these things as you rely on Him.
ACT: If you know anyone who has left church because of a past failure, contact the person and encourage him or her to let God and His people back into their life. Also, make a conscious effort to converse, behave, serve and treat others in ways that reflect a positive image of Jesus and make His message appealing (without compromising godly principles). Refer to the “Ways to Serve” lists, pp. 2275-2276, and “101 Ways to be a Witness,” pp. 2282-2284.