2 Corinthians 10.1–12: Seeing beneath the surface (Day 70)

Bible Society's Daily Reflections follow the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, designed for those who want to read the whole Bible in one year. Each reflection focuses on one of its four daily chapters. Darllenwch rhain yn Gymraeg.

Pray

Pray

Lord, prepare me to receive your word. Clear my mind and warm my heart. Assure me of your loving purposes for me, and speak into my life today.

Read

Read

Laws about Repayment

1“If someone steals a cow or a sheep and kills it or sells it, he must pay five cows for one cow and four sheep for one sheep. 2-4He must pay for what he stole. If he owns nothing, he shall be sold as a slave to pay for what he has stolen. If the stolen animal, whether a cow, a donkey, or a sheep, is found alive in his possession, he shall pay two for one.

“If a thief is caught breaking into a house at night and is killed, the one who killed him is not guilty of murder. But if it happens during the day, he is guilty of murder.

5“If someone lets his animals graze in a field or a vineyard and they stray away and eat up the crops growing in someone else's field, he must make good the loss with the crops from his own fields or vineyards.

6“If someone starts a fire in his own field and it spreads through the weeds to someone else's field and burns up corn that is growing or that has been cut and stacked, the one who started the fire is to pay for the damage.

7“If anyone agrees to keep someone else's money or other valuables for him and they are stolen from his house, the thief, if found, shall repay double. 8But if the thief is not found, the one who was keeping the valuables is to be brought to the place of worship and there he must take an oath that he has not stolen the other one's property.

9“In every case of a dispute about property, whether it involves cattle, donkeys, sheep, clothing, or any other lost object, the two people claiming the property shall be taken to the place of worship. The one whom God declares to be guilty shall pay double to the other one.

10“If someone agrees to keep a neighbour's donkey, cow, sheep, or other animal for him, and the animal dies or is injured or is carried off in a raid, and if there was no witness, 11the man must go to the place of worship and take an oath that he has not stolen the other man's animal. If the animal was not stolen, the owner shall accept the loss, and the other man need not repay him; 12but if the animal was stolen, the man must repay the owner. 13If it was killed by wild animals, the man is to bring the remains as evidence; he need not pay for what has been killed by wild animals.

14“If anyone borrows an animal from someone else and it is injured or dies when its owner is not present, he must pay for it. 15But if that happens when the owner is present, he need not repay. If it is a hired animal, the loss is covered by the hiring charge.

Moral and Religious Laws

16“If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged, he must pay the bride price for her and marry her. 17But if her father refuses to let him marry her, he must pay the father a sum of money equal to the bride price for a virgin.

18“Put to death any woman who practises magic.

19“Put to death any man who has sexual relations with an animal.

20“Condemn to death anyone who offers sacrifices to any god except to me, the LORD.

21“Do not ill-treat or oppress a foreigner; remember that you were foreigners in Egypt. 22Do not ill-treat any widow or orphan. 23If you do, I, the LORD, will answer them when they cry out to me for help, 24and I will be angry and kill you in war. Your wives will become widows, and your children will be fatherless.

25“If you lend money to any of my people who are poor, do not act like a moneylender and require him to pay interest. 26If you take someone's cloak as a pledge that he will pay you, you must give it back to him before the sun sets, 27because it is the only covering he has to keep him warm. What else can he sleep in? When he cries out to me for help, I will answer him because I am merciful.

28“Do not speak evil of God, and do not curse a leader of your people.

29“Give me the offerings from your corn, your wine, and your olive oil when they are due.

“Give me your firstborn sons. 30Give me the firstborn of your cattle and your sheep. Let the firstborn male stay with its mother for seven days, and on the eighth day offer it to me.

31“You are my people, so you must not eat the meat of any animal that has been killed by wild animals; instead, give it to the dogs.

The Word of Life

1In the beginning the Word already existed; the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2From the very beginning the Word was with God. 3Through him God made all things; not one thing in all creation was made without him. 4The Word was the source of life, and this life brought light to humanity. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out.

6God sent his messenger, a man named John, 7who came to tell people about the light, so that all should hear the message and believe. 8He himself was not the light; he came to tell about the light. 9This was the real light — the light that comes into the world and shines on everyone.

10The Word was in the world, and though God made the world through him, yet the world did not recognize him. 11He came to his own country, but his own people did not receive him. 12Some, however, did receive him and believed in him; so he gave them the right to become God's children. 13They did not become God's children by natural means, that is, by being born as the children of a human father; God himself was their Father.

14The Word became a human being and, full of grace and truth, lived among us. We saw his glory, the glory which he received as the Father's only Son.

15John spoke about him. He cried out, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘He comes after me, but he is greater than I am, because he existed before I was born.’ ”

16Out of the fullness of his grace he has blessed us all, giving us one blessing after another. 17God gave the Law through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God. The only Son, who is the same as God and is at the Father's side, he has made him known.

John the Baptist's Message

19The Jewish authorities in Jerusalem sent some priests and Levites to John, to ask him, “Who are you?”

20John did not refuse to answer, but spoke out openly and clearly, saying: “I am not the Messiah.”

21“Who are you, then?” they asked. “Are you Elijah?”

“No, I am not,” John answered.

“Are you the Prophet?” they asked.

“No,” he replied.

22“Then tell us who you are,” they said. “We have to take an answer back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

23John answered by quoting the prophet Isaiah:

“I am ‘the voice of someone shouting in the desert:

Make a straight path for the Lord to travel!’ ”

24The messengers, who had been sent by the Pharisees, 25then asked John, “If you are not the Messiah nor Elijah nor the Prophet, why do you baptize?”

26John answered, “I baptize with water, but among you stands the one you do not know. 27He is coming after me, but I am not good enough even to untie his sandals.”

28All this happened in Bethany on the east side of the River Jordan, where John was baptizing.

The Lamb of God

29The next day John saw Jesus coming to him, and said, “There is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me, but he is greater than I am, because he existed before I was born.’ 31I did not know who he would be, but I came baptizing with water in order to make him known to the people of Israel.”

32And John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and stay on him. 33I still did not know that he was the one, but God, who sent me to baptize with water, had said to me, ‘You will see the Spirit come down and stay on a man; he is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34I have seen it,” said John, “and I tell you that he is the Son of God.”

The First Disciples of Jesus

35The next day John was standing there again with two of his disciples, 36when he saw Jesus walking by. “There is the Lamb of God!” he said.

37The two disciples heard him say this and went with Jesus. 38Jesus turned, saw them following him, and asked, “What are you looking for?”

They answered, “Where do you live, Rabbi?” (This word means “Teacher”.)

39“Come and see,” he answered. (It was then about four o'clock in the afternoon.) So they went with him and saw where he lived, and spent the rest of that day with him.

40One of them was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. 41At once he found his brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah.” (This word means “Christ”.) 42Then he took Simon to Jesus.

Jesus looked at him and said, “Your name is Simon son of John, but you will be called Cephas.” (This is the same as Peter and means “a rock”.)

Jesus Calls Philip and Nathanael

43The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Come with me!” 44(Philip was from Bethsaida, the town where Andrew and Peter lived.) 45Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one whom Moses wrote about in the book of the Law and whom the prophets also wrote about. He is Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”

46“Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Nathanael asked.

“Come and see,” answered Philip.

47When Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, he said about him, “Here is a real Israelite; there is nothing false in him!”

48Nathanael asked him, “How do you know me?”

Jesus answered, “I saw you when you were under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

49“Teacher,” answered Nathanael, “you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

50Jesus said, “Do you believe just because I told you I saw you when you were under the fig tree? You will see much greater things than this!” 51And he said to them, “I am telling you the truth: you will see heaven open and God's angels going up and coming down on the Son of Man.”

1-2Job, you challenged Almighty God;

will you give up now, or will you answer?

Job

3-4I spoke foolishly, LORD. What can I answer?

I will not try to say anything else.

5I have already said more than I should.

 

6Then out of the storm the LORD spoke to Job once again.

The LORD

7Stand up straight now,

and answer my questions.

8Are you trying to prove that I am unjust —

to put me in the wrong and yourself in the right?

9Are you as strong as I am?

Can your voice thunder as loud as mine?

10If so, stand up in your honour and pride;

clothe yourself with majesty and glory.

11Look at those who are proud;

pour out your anger and humble them.

12Yes, look at them and bring them down;

crush the wicked where they stand.

13Bury them all in the ground;

bind them in the world of the dead.

14Then I will be the first to praise you

and admit that you won the victory yourself.

 

15Look at the monster Behemoth;

I created him and I created you.

He eats grass like a cow,

16but what strength there is in his body,

and what power there is in his muscles!

17His tail stands up like a cedar,

and the muscles in his legs are strong.

18His bones are as strong as bronze,

and his legs are like iron bars.

 

19The most amazing of all my creatures!

Only his Creator can defeat him.

20Grass to feed him grows

on the hills where wild beasts play.

21He lies down under the thorn bushes,

and hides among the reeds in the swamp.

22The thorn bushes and the willows by the stream

give him shelter in their shade.

23He is not afraid of a rushing river;

he is calm when the Jordan dashes in his face.

24Who can blind his eyes and capture him?

Or who can catch his snout in a trap?

Paul Defends his Ministry

1I, Paul, make a personal appeal to you — I who am said to be meek and mild when I am with you, but harsh with you when I am away. By the gentleness and kindness of Christ 2I beg you not to force me to be harsh when I come; for I am sure I can deal harshly with those who say that we act from worldly motives. 3It is true that we live in the world, but we do not fight from worldly motives. 4The weapons we use in our fight are not the world's weapons but God's powerful weapons, which we use to destroy strongholds. We destroy false arguments; 5we pull down every proud obstacle that is raised against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey Christ. 6And after you have proved your complete loyalty, we will be ready to punish any act of disloyalty.

7You are looking at the outward appearance of things. Is there someone there who reckons himself or herself to belong to Christ? Well, let them think again about themselves, because we belong to Christ just as much as they do. 8For I am not ashamed, even if I have boasted somewhat too much about the authority that the Lord has given us — authority to build you up, not to tear you down. 9I do not want it to appear that I am trying to frighten you with my letters. 10Someone will say, “Paul's letters are severe and strong, but when he is with us in person, he is weak, and his words are nothing!” 11Such a person must understand that there is no difference between what we write in our letters when we are away and what we will do when we are there with you.

12Of course we would not dare to classify ourselves or compare ourselves with those who rate themselves so highly. How stupid they are! They make up their own standards to measure themselves by, and they judge themselves by their own standards! 13As for us, however, our boasting will not go beyond certain limits; it will stay within the limits of the work which God has set for us, and this includes our work among you. 14And since you are within those limits, we were not going beyond them when we came to you, bringing the Good News about Christ. 15So we do not boast about the work that others have done beyond the limits God set for us. Instead, we hope that your faith may grow and that we may be able to do a much greater work among you, always within the limits that God has set. 16Then we can preach the Good News in other countries beyond you and shall not have to boast about work already done in someone else's field.

17But as the scripture says, “Whoever wants to boast must boast about what the Lord has done.” 18For it is people of whom the Lord thinks well who are really approved, not people who think well of themselves.

Reflect

Daily Reflection: 2 Corinthians 10

In chapter 10, the tone changes. From writing a beautiful hymn to generosity, Paul becomes more combative. He is facing opposition from people who don't think he is a very impressive figure (verse 10) and are questioning his authority – and thereby undermining the message he preached.

In whatever sphere – politics, business, the Church, the family – there's a great danger in allowing ourselves to be swayed too much by charismatic, powerful personalities. We all know people who seem able to convince people they should be in charge, because they are confident and appear capable of getting things done. Rather than listening carefully to what they say and judging them by their records, we trust their own valuation of themselves. Paul is quite scathing: 'How stupid they are! They make up their own standards to measure themselves by, and they judge themselves by their own standards!' (verse 12).

Instead, he says, 'it is people of whom the Lord thinks well who are really approved, not people who think well of themselves' (verse 18).

So the Church is called to go against the grain of the world. We shouldn't assume that people who come across as natural leaders are really the ones with the solutions to our problems. Answers might come from elsewhere – from those who are overlooked because they don't fit our stereotypes or because their voices aren't as loud. Part of discipleship is learning to listen to people on the margins.

Pray

Pray

God, forgive me if I've gone along with the crowd, and not listened to those who seemed too unimportant to have something to say. Help me to see beneath the surface, and look at others with your eyes.

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