Wow, already at the end of another book!
This is the last chapter in his letter to the church of Corinth and gives some important advice that allows us to ensure that we are living a godly life. Over longer periods of time, it is easy to start developing bad habits, have misguided thoughts or just desensitised to the qualities of a Christian life if one does not remains vigilant and careful. In verse 5 and 6, Paul tells us to constantly examine ourselves – our lifestyle, our faith and our own qualities:
Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. — 2 Corinthians 13:5-6
Our living should be one that allows God’s grace to intervene. If our living is one that allows and invites Jesus to have a place to “be in us”, the we essentially pass the test. If we only go to church once a week with little prayer and time to grow closer to the Lord, it is easy for our faith to become based on the testimonies we hear at church and from other Christians. This is not a strong foundation and will leave us easily shaken by the inevitable challenges in life. Testimonies are to encourage and reinforce our faith, but should never be the only source of our faith. For this reason, Paul says we must have “firsthand evidence” — God will perform miracles and directly take part in our everyday if we let Him — and by ensuring our living welcomes the presence of God in the long-term, we pass the ‘regular checkups’.
I hope the test won’t show that we have failed. But if it comes to that, we’d rather the test showed our failure than yours. — 2 Corinthians 13:7
In this next verse, Paul begins to close the letter by showing how though he has given many teachings to the church of Corinth, he is still a human and does not see himself as superior to anyone else. He knows his weaknesses in being a man and tells all that It is necessary for him to apply the same test for himself and that he can only hope that he ‘passes’ it each time. Paul’s humility and selflessness is shown here and we ought to learn from him. He further emphasises that he himself is not any more special and that he genuinely cares for the people by telling us that the test is not designed to make himself ‘look good’ but rather is for the good of everyone’s personal relationship with God. The test is nothing more but a means for us to test our living against truth so that we can live as better Christians, not a means of superiority of some Christians over others.