“Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” 2 Corinthians 13:11-14
Finally, brothers. As a last mention; before I sign off; and the most important thing is; of all I have said, remember this. And you are family, my brothers and sisters; I say this in love; you are special to me; I value our relationship. Paul closes his long letter to the Corinthians by setting a target that is the capstone of his message of unification within the church and with him in his ministry. He gives a charge that is seldom heard, and much less heeded, today. Restoration, comfort, agreement, peace, welcome, affection– are these the theme of my song all the day long? His closing blessing from the triune God is a fitting sign-off, the parting gift that makes his commendation possible. Without Him we can do nothing. (John 15:5)
To establish this aim, I must gratefully understand that I am part of the family of Christ, of fellow image-bearers; none is more valuable than or superior to another. What can I do to pursue restoration, comfort, agreement, peace? I can recognize the itches in my attitudes and check my words. Rather than spouting off, debating, or stirring argument, I can hold my tongue and be generous in affirming with, “that’s a great idea,” “what do you think?,” “yes, let’s do it,” “I agree,” then say no more. I don’t always have to be right, qualify my statements, or have the last word. My opinion is only as important as another’s, and I would do well to concur with my loved ones’ just for his sake. I can also practically serve another– make a visit, prepare and take a comfort meal, hold a hand. I can deliberately promote harmony by speaking well of others, building up godly qualities, steering conversation to foster common ground and stimulate loftier ideas. When do I go out of my way to show affection and appreciation, to prefer others, to bless them with specific encouragement, positive words, unselfish actions of love?
In our culture of inflammatory talk, the right to be easily offended, prejudices that peg others before any understanding is even attempted, critical attitudes and self-promotion, the restoration of civility in relationships and harmony among those with polarized views or even irritating habits seem impossible. But Paul leaves us with the secret for achieving this high aim: By the grace of Jesus Who has forgiven and saved us, with the love of God poured out in our hearts, and in fellowship with the Holy Spirit Who inspires, counsels, enables with supernatural power, and unifies, we can make a difference as effective ministers of reconciliation and peace. (John 16:7;17:11; Romans 5:5;8:11,16; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15,18-20)
Lord on high, fix my daily aim on this lofty charge. Remove all that hinders me in each area, and compel me with joy to will and act by Your grace, in Your love, for Your glory. (Philippians 2:13)