2Co 6:1-3 “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:”
If we only gave this a casual reading, we would be tempted to conclude that God wants (or perhaps, needs) our help. Again, I caution that we do not let chapters and verses disrupt the thought that is before us. In the closing verses of chapter five, Paul talks about the work of God in reconciling us unto Himself in Jesus Christ, and how that He has given us the ministry of reconciliation.
We are “workers together” with God, only in the sense that He has called us to this ministry and made us ambassadors of Christ. As such, we are very thankful to realize that we do not labor on our own strength. God works with us (or in us, as Paul expressed to the Philippians – Php 2:13). Because God works in us, we are able to call near (beseech) those who are quickened by His Spirit.
The work of the ministry of reconciliation comes to us by the grace of God. Our eternal life is also given to us by the grace of God. Whereas our eternal life is in Jesus Christ, and bestowed upon us through Him, it cannot be “received in vain.” However, that grace which is ours by the ministry of reconciliation can be received in vain.
If we are truly workers together with God, then we are going to present this ministry of reconciliation in such a light that all the glory and honor belong to God. The minute that we try to bring in the least of man’s work or ideology into it, it becomes vanity. This ministry of reconciliation teaches us to walk obediently before God out of love. When we try and make our reconciliation contingent upon our behavior, then we have received it in vain.
When we view our reconciliation as anything other than the work of the living God, then it becomes empty of the praise and honor due to Him. Further, it will soon prove to be an empty exercise to us because we will no longer be feasting on His mercy but rather eating the bitterness of our continual failure to live a perfect life. Nothing short of perfection will reconcile us to God, and our only hope of perfection lies in our Lord Jesus (Heb 2:10).
God hearkens to us in a time approved by Him; it is not of him that willeth or of him that runneth (Rom 9:16). He gave us great relief, literally when we were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, and experientially when He revealed His Son in us. One was set before we ever had a being in this world, and the other is still occurring in the lives of God’s children today.
The true ministry of reconciliation does not give offence in any way. That does not mean that no one will be offended by this ministry. There is a difference in using the ministry to give offence, and taking offense at the ministry. If it is my intention to use the word of God to offend, then that is to my shame and I am giving offense. If, on the other hand, I speak the truth of this ministry in the love of Christ and a hearer takes offense, such offense is not the fault of the ministry.
May God give us comfort in knowing that He works in us, so that we might be workers together with Him, as we minister the truth of His reconciling grace to His children!