1So we, who work together with God, ask you strongly to be careful. God is very good to us because he is so very kind. But be careful not to waste the good things that God has done for you. 2In the Bible God says:
‘I listened to you at the time when I was ready to be kind.
I helped you on the day when I was ready to save you.’
Listen! Now is the time when God is ready to be kind! Now is the day when he is ready to save you!
3We do nothing that might cause anyone to be angry or sad because of us. We do not want anyone to think bad things about our work. 4Instead, we want to show, by everything, that we are God's servants. We show that because we are very patient and brave during bad troubles and pain. Sometimes we have many difficulties and so we are very sad. 5Sometimes people hit us. Sometimes they put us in prison. Sometimes people attack us. Sometimes we work very, very much. Sometimes we stay awake at night to watch. Sometimes we have no food. 6But still we show that we are God's servants. We are good and clean inside ourselves and we have no bad purposes. We know what is true. We are patient and kind. We have God's Spirit, who is completely good. And we really love God and other people.
7We speak only words that are true. We have God's power in us. We are right with God, and that makes us strong to fight on his behalf. It makes us strong, like people who fight with both their right hand and their left hand. 8Sometimes people think that we are great and important. And sometimes they think that we are worth nothing. Sometimes people say bad things about us and sometimes they say good things. Sometimes people think that we are not honest about ourselves. But we are always honest and we say only true things. 9People say that they do not know us. But really, everybody knows what we are. People think that we are dying. But see, we are still alive! People punish us but they do not kill us. 10We seem sad, but we are always happy really. We seem poor, but we make many people rich. We seem to have nothing, but really we have everything.
11Our friends at Corinth, we have spoken to you very honestly. We have hidden nothing from you. You know everything that we feel. 12We have done nothing to stop you from being our friends that we know well. No, but you yourselves have not been completely honest with us. It is you yourselves who have not told us everything. 13I am speaking to you as I would speak to my own children. Be fair to us! Be completely honest with us also. Tell us everything that you feel.
God's people are separate from people who do not believe God
14Do not try to be united with people who do not believe Christ. God has made you right with himself. So, you cannot work together with people who are not right with him. Light and dark are completely different. 15Christ and the Devil cannot agree. People who believe Christ have nothing in common with other people. Christ's people have nothing in common with people who do not believe Christ. 16God's house has nothing in common with false gods. And we are the house of the God who lives for ever. As God has said:
‘I will live with them and I will be among them.
I will be their God and they will be my people.’
17And so, the Lord says:
‘Come out from among them and be separate.
Touch nothing that is not good and clean.
And I will accept you.’
18‘I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and my daughters.
This is what the Lord with all authority says.’