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husband holding his pregnant wife December 3 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): 2Corinthians 10–13

Godly Jealousy and Grace Living

Godly jealousy seems like an oxymoron—two words that do not fit with each other. Jealousy is usually thought of as a bad thing, and in its most evil form it can lead to murder. But do we realize there is a godly jealousy? For instance, if a married couple is jealous to keep the relationship with their spouse as pure and unadulterated as possible, they will constantly and joyfully be attentive to their emotional, physical, and material needs. Furthermore, they will not flirt with those of the opposite sex, whether personally, through secret internet relationships, or through pornography. This kind of jealousy is something to be commended. This kind of jealousy is love.

In our last Bible study, we saw that the Apostle Paul was proud of the Corinthians for their love and hospitality. As a testimony of their love for God, Paul wanted the Corinthians to be grace-givers, that is, to provide for the material needs of the poor, for whom he was taking up a collection.

In today's Bible reading, Paul desires the Corinthians to accept him and live out the grace they have been shown. This is grace-living. Similar to grace giving, grace-living occurs when Christians consider all Christ has done for them and live like ones changed by God's grace. Then they extend this same kind of love and grace to others. Have we been changed by the grace of God? He offers us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life. We can be new in our spirit and able to show his grace to others (more...).

When Paul visited the Corinthians, he told them about Christ. Many were converted. But now, they are showing signs that they are slipping in their spirituality. Because Paul is jealous for their relationship with Christ, he warns them not to fall back into sexual immorality and idolatry, from which they have been saved. Paul spent a considerable time teaching them how to live faithful to God. He does not want his efforts to be wasted. He also does not want to be ashamed when he next sees them.

Paul wants to be proud of the Corinthian believers, but their recent withdrawal from him has him concerned. He even finds it necessary to boast about all that Christ has done through him for their benefit. He wants them to respect and listen to him, although personally he loathes boasting. “But [Paul says], ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord,’ for it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends” (2Corinthians 10:17-18, NIV).

Paul cares deeply for the Corinthian believers. He writes,

I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him, But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2-3, NIV).

Paul spent about three years discipling the Corinthians (Acts 18), wrote three letters (two of which were lost in subsequent years and never added to our Bibles), and now he plans a third visit to them. How concerned are we for our brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we jealous of their relationship with the Lord? Will we seek to be involved in restoring their relationship with him? This is godly jealousy. This is love. Hopefully, the people to whom we love and minister will see our genuine concern, will turn back to God and live to please him. This will bring joy to us and to our Lord.

Lessons to Live By

  • Have we been changed by the grace of God? He offers us forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life (more...).
  • Let us practice grace-living and have respect for others who have ministered to us. Remember what God has saved us from and extend the same kind of grace to others.
  • We should be jealous with godly jealousy, caring for people’s souls. It is loving to get involved in order to restore others to a right relationship with God.

Focus Verse: The letter of 2Corinthians ends with what is perhaps the theme of the book, and this will be our verse today.

“Finally, brothers, good-by. 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,” (2 Corinthians 13:11, NIV).

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A Look Ahead: Another letter the Apostle Paul writes while on his third missionary journey is to the Christians in Rome. They are very evangelistic, but perhaps because there has been confusion between Jewish and Gentile Christians on how to be right which God, Paul finds it necessary to address it. Our Next Lesson is Righteousness—How is it Achieved?

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