Sunday, 7 June 2015
Moreover I call God as witness against my soul, that to spare you I came no more to Corinth. 2 Corinthians 1:23
After carefully building up his words thus far in Chapter 1, Paul now gives the reason for having not come directly to Corinth as he first proposed. In doing so, he calls out words unique in the New Testament writings by saying, “I call God as witness against my soul…” He had just a few verses earlier confirmed to those in Corinth the words of Jesus about letting your “Yes” be “Yes” and your “No” be “No.” And yet, he now makes this added statement as a confirmation of his honesty and integrity.
This then is not a contradiction of the intent of Jesus’ words. Instead, it shows clearly that he believed they were a general principle for always being truthful in speech to others, but at the same time they are not a “rigid exclusion of the right to appeal to God in solemn cases and for good reasons” (Pulpit Commentary). God has shown us, through His word, that we can in fact make such bold claims when the situation so demands it.
In the case of Paul here, he had a very good reason for not going through Corinth and it required this oath when giving it. In his words to them, he gives the reason as “…to spare you I came no more to Corinth.” If he had come at the time he originally said he would come, it would not have been a visit filled with love and tenderness, but one filled with discipline and probably very hard feelings between both sides. He alluded to this in 1 Corinthians 4 –
“What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?” 1 Corinthians 4:21
Paul only had the best intent for the Corinthians and their mutual friendship in mind. It is this that he now conveys to them.
Life application: We are certainly implored by the Lord to fulfill the words that we speak, but there may be times when amending our actions are actually more necessary than fulfilling the original plans we have conveyed. If so, however, we should be careful to explain why we have made the changes, including what was involved in the decision. Paul has set a good example of this for us in 2 Corinthians 1.
Lord, grant me the wisdom to know when to promise and when to withhold promises that I may have to later break. But if I cannot fulfill my original words to others, help me to be able to properly explain my motives and the benefits to all concerned for why they had to be changed. Help me to never take my words lightly, but to be conscientious about what I have spoken so that others see a person of integrity and trustworthiness. I ask this so that they will see my devotion to You in the most favorable light. Amen.