2 Corinthians 12:11-21
11 I have made a fool of myself. But you made me do it. You should have praised me. Even though I am nothing, I am in no way less important than the “super-apostles.” 12 While I was with you, I kept on showing you the actions of a true apostle. These actions include signs, wonders and miracles. 13 How were you less important than the other churches? The only difference was that I didn’t cause you any expense. Forgive me for that wrong! 14 Now I am ready to visit you for the third time. I won’t cause you any expense. I don’t want what you have. What I really want is you. After all, children shouldn’t have to save up for their parents. Parents should save up for their children. 15 So I will be very happy to spend everything I have for you. I will even spend myself. If I love you more, will you love me less? 16 In any case, I haven’t caused you any expense. But I’m so tricky! I have caught you by tricking you! Or so you think! 17 Did I take advantage of you through any of the men I sent to you? 18 I asked Titus to go to you. And I sent our brother with him. Titus didn’t take advantage of you, did he? Didn’t we walk in the same footsteps by the same Spirit? 19 All this time, have you been thinking that I’ve been speaking up for myself? No, I’ve been speaking with God as my witness. I’ve been speaking like a believer in Christ. Dear friends, everything I do is to help you become stronger. 20 I’m afraid that when I come I won’t find you as I want you to be. I’m afraid that you won’t find me as you want me to be. I’m afraid there will be arguing, jealousy and fits of anger. I’m afraid each of you will focus only on getting ahead. Then you will tell lies about each other. You will talk about each other. I’m afraid you will be proud and cause trouble. 21 I’m afraid that when I come again my God will put me to shame in front of you. Then I will be sad about many who sinned earlier and have not turned away from it. They have not turned away from uncleanness, sexual sins and wild living. They have done all those things.
My bible heads the passage with “Paul’s concern for the Corinthians.”
It could be headed “A Father’s Heart”.
Paul is at pains to defend himself against accusations of having no authority and taking financial advantage of the Corinthian Christians. Itinerant teachers and philosophers at the time relied on their followers for financial support. Paul however did not want to put a price on the gospel, which is a free message of life!
I love the way this passage reveals Paul’s true heart, the heart of a spiritual father to these new Christians (v14). He wants his “children” to grow stronger in their faith (v19), and this is his motivation, rather than his reputation, status or how much money he can make!
The heart of Paul is also full of care for his “dear friends”. Not a soppy kind of warm caring but a deep concern for them. Under everything Paul’s heart is for relationship – he looks forward to seeing them but fears the state in which he will find their relationships. This passage demonstrates the kind of relationship Paul prays for these Christians to pursue. His relationship with them is characterised by honesty, accountability, and he was prepared for it to be costly (v15).
I reflect on the relationships I have with others in church. God has placed me in community to struggle, repent, grow, to encourage and build up, to be encouraged and built up, together. Commitment to these relationships could be costly, I will be accountable. My “private” life (v20-21) – thoughts, behaviours, priorities – is not just a matter for me, but affects these relationships, so I cant be one thing in private and another in church.
Heavenly Father, I repent of the way I take my church community for granted. Thank you for the church, where you planned me to be. Amen.
Written by Claire Moore