2 Corinthians 13:11 Finally, brothers, good-bye. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
Several differences in translation caught my eye about this verse. In Japanese it says, “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Become perfect. Receive comfort. Be of one heart. Maintain peace. If you do that, the God of love and peace will be with you.” I’m particularly struck by the NIV saying, “good-by,” and the Japanese saying, “rejoice.” It really makes me wonder what Paul actually said. Sometimes, someone leaving (or shutting up) does make us happy! Also, “listen to my appeal” seems quite different from “be comforted.” Actually, whatever way you translate it, this verse fits in with the fact that Paul has said some pretty strong things in this letter, but it is all out of the love he feels toward the recipients. We get the mistaken idea that being loving keeps us from being firm, when that isn’t the case at all. We have the expression, “tough love,” but often we don’t get that right. Sometimes our “toughness” is just being self-centered, and sometimes our “love” is just taking the easy way out. We too need to aim for perfection, recognizing that we aren’t there yet, and strive to let the Holy Spirit be in control of our words and our actions. We need to remember that God is indeed “the God of love and peace,” but our perception of both of those things is often distorted.
My use of this chapter has been focused on the benediction in verse 14, which I quote or paraphrase very frequently. I’ve got to remember that the things mentioned there – the grace of Jesus, the love of the Father, and the fellowship of the Spirit – are my goals for each person I interact with. I need to remember that I can’t do any of that in my own strength and wisdom, and so walk in grateful humility. God does impart His wisdom to those who ask, (James 1:5) and His power does operate through His children, (1 Corinthians 15:10) but that’s all His doing and I cannot be presumptuous. I need to remember that verse 11 applies as much to me as it does to those to whom I minister.
Father, thank You for this reminder. When I am struck by the imperfection of others, help me remember my own! May I be an open channel of Your grace, love, and fellowship to all, so that together we may indeed be knit into the Body of Christ, bringing Your kingdom to this earth as we do Your will, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!