God’s Undeserved Kindness—Do Not Miss Its Purpose!
“TALKING about religion . . . is really the pastor’s job,” stated one church member. (Italics ours.) Others have admitted, “Relatively few Christians make an effort to share their faith with others.” (Italics ours.) Such statements clearly emphasize that for the majority of today’s churchgoers, Christianity amounts to little more than a passive belief in God and in Christ as the Messiah.
What is your view? The disciples of Jesus shared their faith with others. (Luke 8:1) Should Christians today do the same? Or if God no longer requires professed Christians to be evangelizers, what does he expect of them? Does God have a purpose for Christians today? Yes! And for this reason, the apostle Paul’s warning to the Corinthian Christians not to “accept the undeserved kindness of God and miss its purpose” has meaning for us. (2 Corinthians 6:1) Let us see why.
God’s Purpose Identified
Like Paul, the Corinthian Christians had accepted the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Because of their faith in this provision, Jehovah declared them righteous. Their acceptance of the Messianic truths received through Paul’s ministry delivered them from enslavement to the false, pagan, and immoral practices for which ancient Corinth was notorious. For them, Jehovah’s undeserved kindness meant their deliverance. However, was such undeserved kindness without purpose?
No. Rather, Jehovah’s purpose in delivering them was the same as his purpose had been in delivering Paul from the unscriptural traditions of Paul’s fathers. Paul himself makes that purpose plain: “I became a minister of this according to the free gift of the undeserved kindness of God that was given me . . . that I should declare to the nations the good news about the unfathomable riches of the Christ.” (Ephesians 3:7, 8; compare Galatians 1:15, 16.) Yes, the purpose of God’s undeserved kindness was that his servants should take up true worship—exalting his name, Jehovah, and making it known in the Christian ministry, just as Paul did.—Romans 10:10.
However, when Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians, it was apparent that many of them had missed the purpose of God’s undeserved kindness. How so? Instead of maintaining a form of worship that was clean and acceptable in the sight of God, they had allowed the immoral influence of the inhabitants of Corinth to dull their senses. Both dissensions and fornication had been reported among them. (1 Corinthians 1:11; 5:1, 2) The majority of those associated with the congregation were readjusted by Paul’s counsel. Nevertheless, Paul did not want them to have any more distractions from the Christian ministry. Hence, he later reminded them not to “accept the undeserved kindness of God and miss its purpose.”—2 Corinthians 6:1.
An Ancient Example
A situation similar to this had developed centuries earlier. In the spring of 537 B.C.E., Jehovah God released his chosen nation of Israel from Babylonian captivity by means of the Persian king Cyrus. The purpose of their deliverance was identified by Cyrus himself in the following decree: “Whoever there is among you of all his people, may his God prove to be with him. So let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of Jehovah the God of Israel.”—Ezra 1:1-3.
Yes, it was Jehovah’s appointed time to have true worship restored to the land of Judah. Because of Jehovah’s undeserved kindness, those repatriated Jews had the privilege of rebuilding his temple in Jerusalem. Accepting the challenge, the returned exiles got settled in their homeland and began restoration work on the temple.—Ezra 1:5-11.
Within a short time, however, this returned Jewish nation allowed outside opposition to interfere with their work. Rather than keep clearly fixed in mind the purpose of their deliverance, they began to say: “The time has not come, the time of the house of Jehovah, for it to be built.” (Haggai 1:2) As a result, the rebuilding work was left entirely for about 16 years.
In the meantime, they were occupied with selfish pursuits, putting more emphasis on material things, fleshly comforts, than on the rebuilding of the sacred house of Jehovah. (Haggai 1:3-9) At Haggai 1:4 we read: “Is it the time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house is waste?” Jehovah’s house of worship was lying “waste,” with just a foundation, while the Jews were living in their well-roofed houses with their walls nicely paneled with fine wood.
Through his prophets Haggai and Zechariah, Jehovah reminded the Jews of the purpose of their deliverance, and the rebuilding work was eventually completed. However, any who continued to hold material possessions in higher esteem than the privilege of seeing true worship restored in Jerusalem clearly missed the purpose of God’s undeserved kindness.
Purpose of Our Deliverance
What can we learn today from the example of the Jews repatriated in 537 B.C.E. and from the Corinthian Christians of Paul’s day? As dedicated servants of Jehovah God, we also have experienced a deliverance. Through his undeserved kindness, no longer are we enslaved to the false doctrines and traditions of Babylon the Great or to the wickedness of this old system of things. (John 8:32; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6) Such deliverance, as well as the freedom it brings, affords us the opportunity to show God our appreciation for his love for us. (1 John 4:9) How?
By our not missing the purpose of God’s undeserved kindness. This is the same as it was for those earlier servants of Jehovah, that we should take up true worship. Today, as in Paul’s day, this means that we should “declare to the nations the good news about the . . . Christ.” (Ephesians 3:8) All, therefore, who accept the undeserved kindness of God must share in the Christian ministry. This means that as dedicated servants of Jehovah God, we have a responsibility to make the truth manifest to others, to magnify and praise God’s name, and to serve him in worship that is clean and holy.—Matthew 28:19, 20; Hebrews 13:15; James 1:27.
‘Do Not Miss Its Purpose’
Is it possible that any one of us, like those early Christians, is in danger of ‘missing the purpose’ of God’s undeserved kindness? Yes. Like them, many of us, at work or at school, must rub shoulders with individuals who practice sexual immorality, thievery, lying, and cheating, as well as other things that are detestable to Jehovah God. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Galatians 5:19-21) So it is vital that we avoid associating with such persons, lest we begin to develop a taste for what is bad. (1 Corinthians 15:33) Such associations can only have a debilitating effect on our faith. Appropriately, Paul wrote Titus: “For the undeserved kindness of God which brings salvation to all sorts of men has been manifested, instructing us to repudiate ungodliness and worldly desires and to live with soundness of mind and righteousness and godly devotion amid this present system of things.”—Titus 2:11, 12.
Some may conclude that they are fulfilling their ministry if they attend the meetings at the Kingdom Hall, share regularly in proclaiming the good news of God’s Kingdom, and are not engaged in any kind of immoral conduct. However, there is another factor to consider. Jesus said: “No one can slave for two masters.” (Matthew 6:24) What did he mean? That even though we devote a measure of our time to the advancement of the good news, it is possible for our main interest in life to be that of striving after more and more material things. True, we may find the prospect of a new system of things under Christ Jesus to be genuinely appealing, yet at the same time we may want to get the most out of this system while it lasts. Such an attitude can only sidetrack us from the real purpose of our deliverance. Was it not a similar attitude toward material pursuits that sidetracked the repatriated Jews from fulfilling the purpose of their deliverance?
Do our works show that we have missed the purpose of our deliverance from this wicked old system and its false religion? Paul told the Corinthians that “now is the especially acceptable time” to help others to gain salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2) Today, with the impending destruction of this wicked system close at hand, there is much greater urgency to Paul’s words. While it is apparent that the majority of today’s churchgoers choose not to share their faith with others, Christians manifesting a heartfelt love for Jehovah God will count it a privilege to share fully in the Christian ministry he has assigned them. All those who faithfully declare the good news in this acceptable time and serve Jehovah in worship that is clean and holy can do so with the assurance that they have ‘accepted the undeserved kindness of God and have not missed its purpose.’—2 Corinthians 6:1.