RECONCILIATION ON THE WAY
Mighty God, you are the God of all the years, the God beyond all years, the author and source and goal of all my living. I trust in you.
Read 2 CORINTHIANS 12:11-21
Paul’s Concern for the Corinthians
11 I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,”[a] even though I am nothing. 12 I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles. 13 How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!
14 Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less? 16 Be that as it may, I have not been a burden to you. Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery! 17 Did I exploit you through any of the men I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go to you and I sent our brother with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not walk in the same footsteps by the same Spirit?
19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening. 20 For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. 21 I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.
- 2 Corinthians 12:11 Or the most eminent apostles
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’1
Paul now anticipates his third arrival in Corinth (v 14).2 His first visit was when he established the church with ‘signs, wonders, and miracles’ (v 12). The second was the painful visit that left him badly wounded. Now he is sending Titus and others ahead, bearing his completed letter, and anticipates with some anxiety a full reconciliation. Some pain, seemingly, remains (vs 13,16), but by the grace of God Paul believes himself more than equal to the super-apostles, if they are still around. Perhaps they have moved on somewhere else to flaunt their egos and burnish their credentials. They have also left the suspicion that Paul’s intention was to exploit the church, a criticism he refutes by indicating how little he or Titus or their co-workers laid burdens on them (vs 16–18).
What Paul still fears is further grief and a badly diseased church (v 21), even though there is now reason to hope that the worst is past. The depth of his love for the Corinthians is evident (vs 14,15). In the event, all will be well: while in Corinth, Paul will find space and time to write his great letter to the Romans before his final journey to Jerusalem.
Church is supposed to be a safe place where we do not hurt each other or cause one another to stumble. Most of the time it is but, as with families, it is sometimes those who mean most to us to whom we are most vulnerable. We owe it to each other to safeguard our churches, not only for children and the elderly but for all people. The table around which we meet for communion is a symbol of hospitality, generosity, gift, and grace. This is what it rightly means to be church. When it succeeds there is great joy.
Can your church say: ‘Come with us and we will treat you well, for the Lord has promised good things to Israel’?3
Loving God, I pray for my church family. I ask that we will be as a light set on a hill, demonstrating the difference Jesus Christ can make in a community.
1 John 13:34,35 2 See also 2 Cor 13:1 3 Num 10:29
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