SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Paul starts this chapter by stating that, in order to prevent his ministry from being discredited, he doesn’t put stumbling blocks in people's path. It is Paul’s desire to reach everyone he can with the gospel and to make sure no one is confused about it. He takes great lengths to accomplish this, and verses 4-10 show some examples.
- Later Paul talks about not being "yoked" together with unbelievers. A yoke is a wooden bar that fits across the necks of two animals used to pull a plow or wagon. Paul uses this analogy for relationships between believers and unbelievers. He says that people who follow Jesus shouldn’t partner with those who don’t follow Jesus. However, he doesn’t use the word "associate." Jesus associated with people who had a reputation for being sinners. But entering into a binding relationship or agreement with someone who doesn’t share your trust in Jesus is asking for trouble because you don't have the most important, foundational things in common.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Paul writes that as a servant of God, he can commend himself in every way (verse 4). He's saying that people can examine his life and they would find nothing that would impair his integrity or raise questions. That should be the goal for all of us. Because we believe in, represent, and serve God we need to live lives that are above reproach.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- If people examined your life, and knew everything, would there be some secrets that came out that would damage your reputation or be embarrassing? Would it make God look bad? God wants to help you to make changes and live a life you (and He) can be proud of. How could you get God's help to make those changes? What friend could you confide in and get help from?
- If you’re considering moving into a binding agreement with someone who doesn't share your faith, walk away. If you're already in one, seek out a wise believing friend to help you navigate through the situation.