Tuesday, 3 November 2015
Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you. 2 Corinthians 10:1
In beginning a new subject, we read an emphatic expression, “Now I Paul.” It is an expression he uses several times elsewhere in his epistles to indicate particularly strong emotions. After this emphatic introduction, he says to the Corinthians that he is “pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ.”
The intent is that in his plea he desires not to be thought of as an authoritarian ruler, but to rather be an emulation of the Lord. Those in Corinth, like all people who are saved, were granted gentle mercy. Instead of a rod of iron, they received meekness and tenderness. Paul’s plea to them is in hopes of emulating that example rather than requiring him to be harsh towards them.
To show that he can be either, he says while still speaking about himself, “…who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you.” This will be further explained in verse 10, but the intent is that the impression of those in Corinth is that Paul’s attitude when present with them was not one of a strong leader. Rather, they looked at him as timid and not capable of enforcing discipline.
However, when he was absent from them he was bold toward them. Though not stated yet, this implies that his letters represented him in his absence as to who he would be when present. And so the thought this verse is conveying is as follows –
1) He is pleading with the Corinthians in the spirit of Christ, which is one of “meekness and gentleness.” This is in hopes of the Corinthians responding to his appeal without him requiring him to be bold and harsh.
2) He has demonstrated a lowly, humble attitude among them in the past and so they would expect him to be the same when he returns.
3) Even if his letters are bold, it is just a letter and his actions won’t match his words.
4) Therefore, they have nothing to fear concerning him being bold and harsh.
Life application: We should remember Paul’s careful explanation of himself here and realize that just because an individual displays an easygoing character, it may be that there is a point where that will change. Moses was noted as the most humble man ever, but he also demonstrated boldness when needed. The lesson is that we should never “push the buttons” of another and assume that their gentle demeanor is all we will see of them.
Lord God, the stresses of life can well up in us and change us from who we normally are into a different person. Sometimes the change may be a good one and allow us to do great things that we normally wouldn’t do. But sometimes the change may not be good and we may do something we would otherwise regret later. Moses lost his patience, acted contrarily, and lost his right to enter the Land of Promise. Help us to learn from such examples and give us the ability to withhold our dark side from taking over and causing irreparable harm to our relationships with others. Help us in this, O Lord. Amen.