Wednesday, 15 July 2015
But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 2 Corinthians 4:2
Building upon the thought of “this ministry” which he mentioned in verse 1, Paul acknowledges the purity of it. The word “but” is given as a contrast to “having received mercy.” They had once needed mercy and based on the granting of that, they (meaning him and the apostles) “have renounced the hidden things of shame.” Charges had been leveled against him for various reasons and certainly the others had been slandered in one way or another as well. But those were mere words without truth.
Rather than speaking of things which are inappropriate, the speech of the apostles was pure and pointed to holiness, not illicit behavior. And not only did he conduct his speech in this manner, but he encouraged others to as well. In his letter to the Ephesians, he said –
“For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.” Ephesians 5:12
Further, their conduct was “not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully.” The word Paul uses for “craftiness” indicates “crafty behavior; unscrupulous cunning that stops at nothing to achieve a selfish goal.” In contrast to such an attitude, his life, doctrine, and intent for sharing the gospel was open and only had the best of others in mind.
There was nothing but good intent and honesty in his conduct. He proved this by working with his own hands to sustain himself rather than peddling the word of God for profit. And this is exactly what he means by the use of the word translated as “deceitfully.” It is a word used only here in the New Testament and it gives the idea of “to ensnare; then to corrupt. Used of adulterating gold, wine, etc” (Vincent’s Word Studies). If someone were to take something of value and water it down for by mixing in something of lesser value, they would be acting in this manner. But Paul held the word of God in the highest reverence and refused to budge an inch on its proper presentation.
Instead of acting in such a disgraceful way, he says they had conducted themselves “by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” In other words, they understood that what they did was in the sight of God and therefore they purposed to always act with this in mind. At the end of the day, their conscience was clean from anything that would be considered dishonest or disreputable. If only all of God’s ministers would act in such a forthright manner today!
Life application: The Bible is God’s word, not ours. When we share it, we are to hold it in the high reverence that it deserves, knowing that the Source holds it as His chosen means of relaying the truth about Himself to us. Further, when we share it, it is in His presence. Therefore, we must remember that He knows our treatment of it and will hold us accountable for how we present it.
Lord God Almighty, You have chosen the Bible as the means of specifically revealing Yourself to us. Therefore, how we treat it is a reflection on our heart’s attitude toward You. You entered the stream of humanity in the Person of Jesus and this great book reveals Him to us. Therefore, when we diminish Your word, we show contempt for Him and thus for You. Help each of us to soberly consider how we treat Your superior word, knowing that an offense against it is an offense against You personally. Amen.