Friday, 11 September 2015
I do not say this to condemn; for I have said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. 2 Corinthians 7:3
Paul just said to the Corinthians, “Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have cheated no one.” Having said this, he must have suddenly thought, “They may misperceive these words as a note of condemnation, assuming that I meant that I am responding to specific accusations against us.”
To ensure they take his words in a general rather than a specific manner, he says, “I do not say this to condemn.” Some translations (like the KJV) insert “you” at the end of this thought (I do not say this to condemn you), thus making is sound specific. However, “you” is not in the original, nor does it seem to be the intent. Instead, he is leaving his words vague in order to avoid specificity, and so they are to be taken in a general sense only.
Continuing on, he says, “…for I have said before that you are in our hearts.” He could be referring to his first epistle, or even to his words spoken directly to them while he was with them. However, he gives a general sense of this thought twice so far in this letter –
“You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men…” 2 Corinthians 3:2
O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. 13 Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.” 2 Corinthians 6:11, 12
He also conveyed this same thought to those at Philippi –
“…just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers with me of grace.” Philippians 1:7
Paul carried his flock with him wherever he went and he treasured them in his heart like a father who loves his own son, so much so that his love for them extended to the thought that they were “to die together and to live together.” Paul was willing, if necessary, to give up all for his beloved brothers. If it meant spending the rest of his life with them and eventually dying with them, he would even do that in order to establish them in Christ.
Certainly, he felt that his letters and occasional visits would suffice, but he was willing to go to whatever extreme in order to prove his love to those he had evangelized. He writes a similar note of affection to the congregation at Thessalonica –
“So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.” 1 Thessalonians 2:8
Life application: To what extent are you willing to go to ensure that Christ is properly proclaimed? Missionaries need to be funded. If good ones lose their means of support, it may mean that only doctrinally unsound missionaries remain. Has the Lord possibly called you to give something up in order to ensure that a Bible study need is met? Is there a task which needs to be accomplished on Sunday morning left undone because you are unwilling to help out? Continuously evaluate the circumstances around you and be aware of the things that are lacking and which you could help with to be met. You are serving the Lord, so serve the Lord!
Heavenly Father, help me to search myself out and determine if I am using my full potential to help with the ministries I am connected to. Have I helped out the missionaries that our church is connected to enough? Have I overlooked something at the Bible study or church gathering that could be of benefit to those meetings? Help me not to be stingy in the time or talents I have been given, but instead help me to use them wisely for Your glory. Amen.