Paul makes a powerful point in second Corinthians, that those who give a low priority to spiritual things have a different set of values from those who give them a high priority. In the outworking of spiritual values in daily life it becomes clear (to God) what our priorities are, what kind of path we are walking in life.
Paul starts Chapter 6 by stating the obvious. “Working together with him …” This is a picture of our teamwork with the divine in which Paul had set the example. He then writes, “we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain”. They had received God’s grace, accepting His calling, but in the end it could be all in vain – just like most of those delivered from slavery in Egypt.
Paul then paints some intriguing word pictures. He draws a contrast between what the physical eye sees and what an eye of faith sees in relation to the course of life. He says, “In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy” (verse 4). Humanly speaking life for Paul was very hard, there were many challenging situations, yet such was his spirituality that he was “overflowing with joy” despite the “beatings, imprisonments, riots, labours, sleepless nights, hunger …” (verse 5).
Verse 10 tells us Paul was “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing”. There were spiritual joys which far outweighed his sorrows. “As poor, yet making many rich”. James wrote, “has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?” (2:5). They show their love by their actions, not just in words. John made this point, he wrote, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
Paul counted as nothing the material things this world could provide and which he no doubt had enjoyed as a Pharisee. He told Timothy, “if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Timothy 6:8). He then sums up his whole attitude by telling the Corinthians (and readers today) – “as having nothing, yet possessing everything”. Do you possess everything?