1We work together with God. So we are asking you not to receive God’s grace and then do nothing with it.2He says, ‘When I had mercy on you, I heard you. On the day I saved you, I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time God has mercy. Now is the day he saves. (Isa 49:8)
3We don’t put anything in anyone’s way. So no one can find fault with our work for God.4Instead, we make it clear that we serve God in every way. We serve him by standing firm in troubles, hard times and suffering.5We don’t give up when we are beaten or put in prison. When people stir up trouble in the streets, we continue to serve God. We work hard for him. We go without sleep and food.6We remain pure. We understand completely what it means to serve God. We are patient and kind. We serve him in the power of the Holy Spirit. We serve him with true love.7We speak the truth. We serve in the power of God. We hold the weapons of godliness in the right hand and in the left.8We serve God in times of glory and shame. We serve him whether the news about us is bad or good. We are true to our calling. But people treat us as if we were pretenders.9We are known, but people treat us as if we were unknown. We are dying, but we continue to live. We are beaten, but we are not killed.10We are sad, but we are always full of joy. We are poor, but we make many people rich. We have nothing, but we own everything.11Believers at Corinth, we have spoken freely to you. We have opened our hearts wide to you.12We are not holding back our love from you. But you are holding back your love from us.13I speak to you as if you were my children. It is only fair that you open your hearts wide to us also.
Paul warns against worshipping false gods
14Do not be joined to unbelievers. What do right and wrong have in common? Can light and darkness be friends?15How can Christ and Satan agree? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?16How can the temple of the true God and the statues of other gods agree? We are the temple of the living God. God has said, ‘I will live with them. I will walk among them. I will be their God. And they will be my people.’ (Le 26:12; Jer 32:38; Eze 37:27)17So, ‘Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch anything that is not pure and “clean”. Then I will receive you.’ (Isa 52:11; Eze 20:34; Eze 20:41)18And, ‘I will be your Father. You will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord who rules over all.’ (2Sa 7:8; 2Sa 7:14)