Text: 2 Corinthians 1:12-14

There is a proverb in the Chinese Church which says, “When God works, Satan also works.” So it is the case for the Apostle Paul. Despite his good work for the Lord among the Corinthians, there were those who still opposed him and attacked his integrity. Some of these false teachers and brethren accused him of being deceptive and manipulative. They pointed to Paul’s change of plans to visit Corinth as possible evidence that he was untrustworthy and devious. These were outrageous and outlandish accusations – fake news!

Paul’s answer was to appeal to an objective assessment of how he conducted himself in the ministry of the Lord. He declared that the witness of his conscience before God is pure. He had always conducted himself in “simplicity and godly sincerity”. The term “simplicity” (haplotēti) points to Paul’s singleness of purpose and devotion to the cause of Christ. On the other hand, “sincerity” (elikrineia) speaks of Paul’s motives being pure before the Lord. Paul was always clean and pure in his motives in the ministry. He was confident that he would be vindicated when he gives his account in the day of the Lord Jesus (v.14). He was indeed a workman approved unto God.

One proof of his sincerity is seen in how he did not serve in “fleshly wisdom”. He did not serve according to worldly philosophies, neither did he engage in sin or in fulfilment of his lusts, but he conducted every aspect of his ministry according to the truth of God’s Word. His life is an example of holiness and Christ-likeness. He was blameless in the sight of man and God.

When we serve the Lord, we too must serve in the integrity of our heart, “providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of man.” (2 Cor. 8:21) Be like Paul who always strives to be accountable to the Lord. Do not be like the false accusers. Despite their protestations against Paul, they were in fact the ones who served in hypocrisy, to fulfil their lusts. Serve with a pure conscience before God.

THOUGHT: How important is a pure conscience to you?
PRAYER: Lord, help me serve Thee with clean hands and a pure heart.

Text: 2 CORINTHIANS 1:15-22

Paul confessed that he originally planned to journey from Ephesus to Corinth by sea, and then onward to Macedonia, as per what he declared earlier in 1 Corinthians 16:5. However, when Paul wrote this epistle, he was already in Macedonia, missing Corinth all together. This caused his opponents to accuse him of lightness, a charge which Paul vehemently denied (v17). Paul did not serve according to fleshly whims and fancies.

In his defence, Paul pointed to the trustworthy character of God. God is always true to His Word. His promises are always “yea”. He will fulfil every jot and tittle of what He has declared. This same God was also the one who commissioned Paul to preach the Gospel. When the detractors accused Paul of being insincere and fickle-minded, it is as good as levelling the same charge against God. Are they therefore trying to say that the promises which they have received in the gospel are unreliable and false? God forbid!

Furthermore, the validity of the Apostle’s message and ministry are further attested by its effects and results (v.21-22). The Corinthian Christians have seen how they were established in Christ by God working through the Apostle. They have also experienced the working of the Holy Spirit in their lives. God had given to indwell the Corinthian believers as the earnest (i.e. down payment) of their salvation. The sealing of the Holy Spirit marked the Corinthian Christians as belonging to God. Since they have experienced all these spiritual blessings, why then are they doubting the integrity and truthfulness of the Paul’s ministry?

The conclusion therefore is this – Paul changed his plan not because of ill intentions, but because circumstances had changed. This was by God’s direction. Man proposes, but God disposes. The Corinthian Christians had been too quick to judge Paul and ended up with false insinuations, to the hurt of everyone in the work of Christ. Similarly, do not be quick to judge, but evaluate things carefully and biblically. You do not want to end up being an accuser of the brethren. Beware!

THOUGHT: Do not be a false accuser like Satan the father of lies.
PRAYER: Lord, help me answer my detractor s truthfully

Text: 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:4

Paul did not change his itinerary not because of any malice nor ficklemindedness. Instead, it was with godly and loving intentions. The Corinthian Christians very much in his heart.

Paul had earlier visited the Corinthian Christians to address deep-seated issues (see 1 Corinthians). Alas, the refusal of the Corinthian Christians to receive Paul meant that it was a painful visit (2 Cor. 2:1) which caused much heaviness in the heart of Paul. This was followed by a severe letter by Paul written “with many tears”.

Nevertheless, Paul wanted the Corinthian Christians to know that he did not take delight in causing such grief and sorrow. He viewed himself as a fellow labourer of Christ (sunergoi) who desired to see the Corinthians walk in joy (2 Cor. 1:24). However, joy can only be fully experienced when the deep-seated issues are addressed. Therefore, for the good of the church, Paul had to minister.

Paul was confident that these issues would be resolved with loving instruction, and the result would be for the great joy of everyone (2 Cor. 2:4). In the meantime, he decided to defer his visit and go straight to Macedonia to avoid causing further sorrow and anguish to the Corinthian Christians. How he wished that everything would eventually be resolved for the joy of the Corinthian Church! This was despite the maltreatment he received at the hands of many in the congregation.

This same pastoral heart of Paul can also be seen in the life of Samuel. Despite many faithful years of service in the midst of God’s people, the people demanded a king like the nations around them. What was Samuel’s reaction to their rejection? “God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and right way” (1 Sam. 12:23). This is a pastor’s love.

You may face misunderstanding and rejection when you seek the spiritual welfare of others in love. Read Proverbs 27:6. Are you ready to love?

THOUGHT: What does it mean to weep for the souls of men?
PRAYER: Lord, be merciful to Thy people.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew