2 Corinthians 6:1-13 has two parts, one negative and the other positive. The negative portion is shorter. In verse 3 Paul wrote, "We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited." I do not know precisely what Paul had in mind as he wrote that. But I think it is quite possible that Paul, undoubtedly having meditated on the words of our Lord, was thinking of that occasion when Jesus himself spoke about causing someone to stumble. Jesus was thinking of children when he said, "But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea" (Matt. 18:6).

Our study of 2 Corinthians brings us to chapter 6, verse 3. Here we find a remarkable passage from the hand of the Apostle Paul describing the nature of his ministry, and the way in which, in all kinds of difficulties and hardships, he conducted himself so as to commend the Gospel to his hearers. It is hard to praise this passage sufficiently. I reflect on it and try to think of anything to which it can be compared.

Do the wire taps of the AP News agency sound intrusive? Do you feel the IRS tactics with politically conservative groups seem over-reaching? Does the news of Benghazi make you wonder what is up with the government? Does all of this remind you in some way of George Orwell's 1984? Then you will want to hear Jim Boice, R.C. Sproul, David Wells, and Bob Godfrey from the 1984 Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology where they address just these types of issues.

The second reason we should carry the Gospel forward lies in our concern for the well-being of other people. Where the Gospel goes, blessing comes to people’s lives. It is out of that that hospitals have been built, schools have been established, and so on. The suffering of the world is a concern that motivates us, but of all the concerns and reasons we have for going to others with the Gospel, the chief among them is what Paul gives in this portion of 2 Corinthians. It is the love of Christ that compels us.

In addition to tents, Paul uses a second image to refer to our earthly bodies, that of clothing. That is an image that we can all understand. Paul says that although our bodies are great things, they are, nevertheless, weakened by sin so that they are mortal. Our bodies are subject to disease. They die. They are like clothing that has fallen into rags. He wrote, "Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life" (2 Cor. 5:2-4).