2 Corinthians 1:24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.
Faith is not something in which we can command each other, but it is an area in which we should encourage one another. It indeed brings joy, because it is the shield with which we can extinguish the flaming arrows of the enemy. (Ephesians 6:16) It is a gift from God, (Ephesians 2:9) but it is one we are responsible to exercise. That’s why Jesus frequently chided His disciples for their lack of faith. To be honest, sometimes we decide not to believe. I have seen people deliberately turn away from their faith, and it is tragic. When we discard faith, we really have no defense against the lies of the enemy. I have seen people decide they are “tired of being Christian” and walk away, but I remain convinced they have never really opened up to the presence and flow of the Holy Spirit. I say that, but Hebrews speaks explicitly of such a situation. (Hebrews 6:4-6) Having tasted of the Spirit myself, that is hard for me to imagine. The thing is, it’s often harder to exercise faith for ourselves that it is for someone else. That’s one of the big benefits of intercession, because we grow spiritually as we pray for others, when we have great difficulty praying accurately for ourselves. That’s what Paul was talking about here in working with the Corinthian believers. In Hebrews it points out that a major reason to meet together is to encourage one another in our faith. (Hebrews 10:25)
This is very timely, because right now I’m dealing with one person who is trying to withdraw from faith because things haven’t gone as they wanted, and I’m dealing with another person who is learning to pray for others instead of being totally wrapped up in what they see as their own problems. I really understand what Paul is saying in this verse! There are times when I would love to be able to command faith, but then it would cease to be genuine, even if I could do that. I can and must speak the truth in love and trust the Holy Spirit to work in each person’s heart – including my own. I myself must choose to stand firm, because as a shepherd I endure even more attacks than the flock. I know that in faith I will indeed stand firm, as this verse says, and will overcome the world. (1 John 5:4)
Father, thank You for this timely reminder. I have a really packed day today. Each of the elements would not be a problem individually, but their all coming together makes me anxious. Help me indeed choose to rest, relax, and rejoice in You throughout today, exercising the faith You have given me, so that I may encourage those around me and together we may indeed overcome the world, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!