SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Paul begins by writing about how God comforts us when we are in times of trouble. In fact, God gives us even more comfort than we need, so we can share it with others.
- Paul then gives a defense of his leadership. Apparently the Corinthian church was still challenging Paul’s authority. But Paul doesn’t overpower his readers, instead he acts as a good father would by being firm yet not overbearing. Here’s a short summary of what he says: "Here’s what I’ve been doing: Went to Asia. Despaired of life. Trusted in God’s strength. Rescued by God from certain doom. Made it through with faith intact praising God. So sorry I couldn’t make it to see you - I was trying to spare you pain. But you know who I am and you have no reason to doubt the things I said. I will see you soon!"
- At the end of the chapter, Paul talks about God's faithfulness to us. He explains that God always keeps His promises to us. And that God has put His Holy Spirit (God's presence) in us as a "deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- When we struggle, we need to turn to God for compassion and strength. And when others struggle, we need to turn to God for compassion and strength to offer them.
- When you give a "deposit" it means you've given something that insures you'll be back. If you leave your credit card while taking a car for a test drive, you'll be back to get your credit card. God has given us His Holy Spirit, and so He is going to bring us to Heaven. It's kind of a deposit He wants back. But it also should serve as an assurance to us. When we have doubts about our faith or our standing with God, having the Holy Spirit (feeling the presence of God in our lives, having the power of God in our lives) should help us to feel assured.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Paul says that the things that happened to him taught him to rely not on himself, but on God. Have you learned this lesson? When you struggle, do you rely on God's compassion and strength, or on something else? When you need to help others, do you turn to God first, or do it in your own strength? When you're not sure about things, do you seek to connect with God's Spirit inside you? If all that is not how you're currently living your life, what might help you to take steps in that direction?