2Co 6:6-8 “By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;”
In the two verses immediately prior to these, Paul has talked about our need to exhibit the attributes of ministers of God in various circumstances (afflictions, necessities, distresses, etc.). Knowing the difficulties is one thing. Understanding how we are able to approve ourselves as the ministers of God in these difficulties is another matter. Paul now turns our attention to this.
To truly minister to God’s people, God must call us and set us apart to that purpose. We are sanctified by the power of the Holy Spirit. In other words, we are made pure. Because we are made pure, we can act upon our knowledge. We are ready and able to reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine, whether the situation is easy or hard (2Ti 4:2). By His grace, we have the fortitude (another meaning of longsuffering) to stand and the ability to do so with kindness (gentleness).
Our ministry is fruitful when, by God’s grace, we are able to do so with a sincere (unfeigned) love for His church. Our love must be deep enough and strong enough that we are willing to speak the word of truth (preach the gospel), even when we know that the truth is going to hurt. I am not advocating that we use the gospel to deliberately hurt any of God’s children, but we have all learned that sometimes the truth does hurt.
We cannot refrain from the truth simply because it is uncomfortable, and we cannot avoid it just because it is going to challenge us and those we love to examine our walk. However, we can and should still handle it with gentleness and love. The ability to do this is found only in the power of God. Many seem to think there are no more miracles. However, if we consider that the meaning of the word translated as “power” points to a miraculous force, then anything that God is in is a miracle: this includes our ministry of reconciliation.
We are to walk in the right ways of God. He teaches us these ways, places them in our hearts, that we should obey them. This righteousness is a protection for us as we labor in His kingdom. It protects us when we are strong (on the right hand) and when we are weak (on the left hand). When we have a good report of the brethren this armor protects us in honor (from becoming puffed up). If we are the victims of an evil (lying) report, this same armor protects us (from being cast down).
We can expect, when we are being faithful ministers to God’s call, that there are going to be those who will call us deceivers. They are going to warn others to stay away from us and the “dangers” of the love and truth that we preach. Even some among our brethren may turn from us at times. None of this changes the truth of God or our ability to live in that truth. God has provided for us the ability that we need in order to endure in hard times and in good.
May we ever find courage in our difficulties by all that God has provided for us!