God Is Faithful Even When Life Isn’t Fair

I dive into 2 Corinthians this morning knowing what’s coming. I’m ready again to read one of Paul’s most personal letters. One in which he pours out his heart because his heart has been broken. Personal because the Corinthians have made it personal as they push back not on his message but on his motives. Questioning his call as an apostle not because he didn’t align with scriptural truth, nor because he hadn’t served them faithfully, but because he seemingly paled in comparison to those who had come into their midst promoting themselves as super apostles.

So, because I know what’s coming, because that filter is on, something I read in this opening chapter captures my attention. Something that we all know and isn’t going to surprise anyone. Something, however, which if you chew on it for a bit, reminds us that God is faithful — even if life sometimes isn’t fair.

Indeed, this is our boast: The testimony of our conscience is that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you, with godly sincerity and purity, not by human wisdom but by God’s grace.

(2Corinthians 1:12 CSB)

Later in the letter, Paul’s going to get into how distasteful he finds it that he must “boast” before these Corinthian believers (11:16-21). But “boast” he must. His qualifications and character having been called into question; he finds himself having to defend himself. And he begins with the “testimony” of his conscience.

As far as Paul knew his own heart, he had tried to live out his life, before the world and before these believers, with godly sincerity. Not that he claimed he had ministered with perfection of action, but that he endeavored to conduct himself with a grace empowered purity of intention. And justice and fair-play would have us think that the best of intentions should have been rewarded with the best of intentions. That Paul would have been gladly received by these believers he had served so patiently and faithfully. Instead, he was rejected. Hmm . . .

Sometimes life isn’t fair. Times when what you might expect as the fruit of your labor isn’t what’s realized. Times, in the moment at least, where there appears to be no quid for the well-intentioned pro quo. Times when sincerity of conduct is met with suspicion of character.

So, what do you do with that? You keep on reading in 2 Corinthians.

Remembering that the God of all comfort comforts us (1:3-4). Reminded that even at our best we’re but jars of clay (4:7). Recalling that we’re in the midst of a spiritual battle and “the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds” (10:8). Reassured that if we’ll conduct ourselves in sincerity of heart by God’s grace, that His grace will be sufficient, and His power will somehow be manifest in our weakness (12:9).

And so, Paul who’s boasting from the very beginning of his letter is still boasting towards the end.

Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.

(2Corinthians 12:9b-10 CSB)

Sometimes life isn’t fair, but God is always faithful. Sometimes things don’t seem right, but the righteous — those righteous not in themselves but in Christ — are never forsaken (Ps. 37:25). Sometimes the testimony of our conscience will have to be enough, knowing that on that day the trying of our works will be just (5:10).

By God’s grace. For God’s glory.

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