As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain.
For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.
We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.
Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;
in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;
in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love;
in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;
through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors;
known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed;
sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you.
We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us.
As a fair exchange--I speak as to my children--open wide your hearts also.
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
What harmony is there between Christ and Belial ? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people."
"Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you."
"I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."
2 Corinthians 7
Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one.
I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you.
I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.
For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn--conflicts on the outside, fears within.
But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus,
and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.
Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it--I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while--
yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us.
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.
So even though I wrote to you, it was not on account of the one who did the wrong or of the injured party, but rather that before God you could see for yourselves how devoted to us you are.
By all this we are encouraged. In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you.
I had boasted to him about you, and you have not embarrassed me. But just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting about you to Titus has proved to be true as well.
And his affection for you is all the greater when he remembers that you were all obedient, receiving him with fear and trembling.
I am glad I can have complete confidence in you.
2 Corinthians 8
And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.
Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.
For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own,
they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.
And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will.
So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part.
But just as you excel in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us --see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so.
Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.
For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.
Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.
At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality,
as it is written: "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little."
I thank God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you.
For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative.
And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel.
What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honor the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help.
We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift.
For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.
In addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often proved to us in many ways that he is zealous, and now even more so because of his great confidence in you.
As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honor to Christ.
Therefore show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you, so that the churches can see it.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
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