Closing Words, Closing Grace

Note from Jesus

Dear Committed Follower,

As Paul came to the end of his very challenging letter to the Corinthians, the letter you call 2 Corinthians, he had several things he wanted to imprint on the hearts of these disciples. He closed his letter with both a blessing and an encouragement for holy living. He had repeatedly defended his right to be My special emissary (or apostle) against the charges that he wasn’t really special, important, or equal to other emissaries. As Paul finished this letter, he emphasized the behaviors and attitudes that the Corinthians needed to have to honor Me. Whether they accepted his ministry or not, Paul wanted them to focus on living in ways that were consistent with My character and compassion.

Notice the words in bold in the verses below. Use them as a good guide for yourself. These qualities are the good fruit from having a heart that belongs to Me and a commitment to honor Me as Lord. Realize that these character qualities are the fruit of being led by the Spirit to conform your character and compassion to be like My own. They show that you are “being transformed, metamorphosed, into [My] image from one radiance of glory to another, just as the Spirit of the Lord accomplishes it” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Here are some behaviors to use as your guide. As Paul said, “Examine yourselves.” So I’ve put the following list down as an evaluation tool for you to use on yourself. This list is in the first person so you can ask yourself if these qualities are really yours:

  1. Do I stay away from evil?
  2. Do I try to do what is right?
  3. Do I act honorably… even in difficult situations?
  4. Do I align myself with truth rather than trying to find a way around it?
  5. Do I trust in the Spirit to help me find wholeness and completeness in Jesus?
  6. Do I rejoice in the Father’s presence in my life and the many blessings He shares with me?
  7. Am I committed to repairing what is broken in my relationships and my own personal life, with the help of the Holy Spirit?
  8. Do I encourage others?
  9. Do I seek to live in unity with my brothers and sisters in Christ by serving others as Jesus did?
  10. As far as possible, do I seek to live in peace with all people — believers and unbelievers?
  11. Do I greet others as brothers and sisters?

Remember, these are words to help you examine the fruit in your life to see if it is consistent with My way of life. This list is not a “color-by-numbers” pattern to gain salvation or a list to help you feel superior to others. Nor is this a checklist to discourage and humiliate you for your failures. Paul gave these check-up characteristics to help the Corinthians refine their focus on the things that matter!

Are you growing in these qualities?

Are you committed to this kind of fruit in your life?

Are you being “transformed” by the Spirit to be more and more like Me in these areas?

If you are, then great! If not, re-focus on Me and seek to walk with Me each day so that My character permeates your life as the Holy Spirit does His work of transformation.

Verses to Live

This whole last message from My great emissary Paul to the Corinthian disciples reveals his heart. While he wanted them to love and appreciate him, their spiritual character was much more important to him than their acceptance and appreciation of him. Even if the Corinthians rejected him, Paul wanted them to follow Me and to reflect Me in their thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. So Paul ended this letter with a beautiful blessing. The last words he wanted the Corinthians to hear from him were words of blessing because he wanted them to live a blessed and holy life.

Examine yourselves. Check your faith! Are you really in the faith? Do you still not know that Jesus the Anointed is in you? — unless, of course, you have failed the test. Surely you will realize we have not failed the test, but we pray to God that you will stay away from evil. What’s important is not whether we appear to have passed the test, but that you do what is right and act honorably, even if it appears that we have failed. For there’s nothing we can do to oppose the truth; all we can do is align ourselves with it.

You see, we celebrate when we are weak but you are strong. Our prayer is simple: that you may be whole and complete. How I hope I am saving you by writing this to you in advance; this letter will spare me from using the Lord’s authority to come down on you when I arrive. His intention in giving me this authority is to build you up, not tear you down.

Finally, brothers and sisters, keep rejoicing and repair whatever is broken. Encourage each other, think as one, and live at peace; and God, the Author of love and peace, will remain with you. Greet each other with a holy kiss, as brothers and sisters. All the saints here with me send you their greeting.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus the Anointed, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit remain with you all. Amen.

(2 Corinthians 13:5-14)

Response in Prayer

O precious Father, You are the Almighty God Who is holy, merciful, righteous, and compassionate. I open my heart to be willingly transformed through the work of the Holy Spirit. Each day I want to find myself more and more like Jesus. I want my thoughts, words, and behaviors to reflect the presence of Jesus in my life. I want these qualities Paul describes in the passage above to become the qualities found in my own character. In Jesus’ name, I ask for this transformation in me. Amen.

‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.

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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.