Testing our faith (March 10, 2024)

Self-examination is needed to be in community, for in community you will need to ask for and offer forgiveness, writes Naomi McQuiller.

Outlook Standard Lesson for March 10, 2024
Scripture Passage and Lesson Focus: 2 Corinthians 13:1-11

Before writing my first research paper, I was taught the general process – make a claim, provide supporting evidence, analyze, and demonstrate the claim’s reliability. The instructor explained it to the class through several modes of engagement. Even though I learned a lot from the instructor, I still had a lot of questions.

I wasn’t alone in this. As a class, we asked the teacher question after question. When this happened, we all paused, realigned, and re-grouped. In some instances, this resulted in a bit of frustration from both parties. Considering the complex nature of research, questions from students can be expected. Over time, however, retention and advancement are expected.

The community of faith in Corinth was no stranger to Paul or his teachings and message. In our Scripture passage for this week, you might be able to pick up on Paul’s frustration with the Corinthians. And, even in his frustration – while being criticized, while being questioned – we hear his final call to restoration, encouragement, unification and peace (v. 11).

Testing our faith

The main purpose of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians is to resolve conflict, division and misunderstanding within the church body while he is away (2 Corinthians 1:23-2:4). In his second letter to the church in Corinth, Paul focuses on ways that they can build a community of faith and love.

In the midst of this, some of the Corinthians are accusing him of having impure motives behind his ministry and message, as well as his spirituality (2 Corinthians 1:15-18). No one who was truly Spirit-filled would go through the suffering Paul has experienced, they said. Even still, Paul continues to express genuine concern for the church and its people. This steadfastness comes from his sincere commitment to the gospel and truth of Christ.

This week’s text is part of an appeal to the “rebels” in the Corinthian church – “I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent” (v. 2). These rebels are pushing up against his teachings. Paul is challenging the church and its members to examine themselves while still relying on their God and their faith in Christ. Paul encourages them to do this through self-examination, or “testing” themselves to see whether they are in the faith (v. 5). The goal in all of this is for the Corinthians to restore relationships within the body and within their own spiritual lives.


Scripture, including this passage from Paul’s letter, points to the fact that faith is not only “knowing,” but the actions that come from your beliefs. Over the last few weeks, we’ve considered what it could look like to develop, strengthen, and express our faith, moral beliefs, and personal ethics. When I have times of doubt, concern, or just plain fear, I know I need to do a quick check-in with myself. One way that embrace my faith in the face of questions is to think about who I would be without my beliefs. What difference does my faith make in me?

Self-examination is a practice discussed in this passage. What does this really mean, though? In verse seven, we are reminded that throughout our spiritual journey, we are going to hurt and be hurt; we will need to forgive and be forgiven. Forgiveness can only come when we are aware of our shortfalls and the way we react to other people. We need to be self-aware to ask for forgiveness and/or self-aware to offer forgiveness. Paul practiced this by forgiving those who attacked him and his ministry.

Paul’s final greetings provide the Corinthians with a “too long, didn’t read” version of the book – rejoice, strive, encourage and live (v. 11). When we have only a few moments to check in with ourselves, may we all be able to say that we are indeed rejoicing, striving, encouraging and living.

Questions for reflection

  1. What is your concept or understanding of self-examination? What might it look like to practice ongoing self-examination?
  2. In some situations, it can be hard to uphold our convictions. From where or whom can you draw courage from to live out your authentic values?

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