As Good As Your Word.
2 Corinthians 1:12-24
You may be asking why I changed my plan. Do you think I make my plans carelessly? Do you think I am like people of the world who say “Yes” when they really mean “No”? As surely as God is faithful, our word to you does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” – 2 Corinthians 1:17-189 NLT
Paul’s authority was in question. There were those in Corinth who didn’t think he had the right to say to them the things he had written in his previous letter. They were raising doubts about his claim to be an apostle. They were contradicting his teaching and casting dispersions about his character. They seemed to claim that his previous letter to them was full of hidden meanings and purposefully obscure teachings. And, in essence, they were labeling Paul a liar because he had promised to come see them again, but had failed to do so. As a result, his word could not be trusted. So Paul had to defend himself. He had had a change of plans, but not a change of heart. He had a good and logical reason for his delay.
Paul had no problem professing his innocence and defending his righteous actions in the matter at hand. “We can say with confidence and a clear conscience that we have lived with a God-given holiness and sincerity in all our dealings” (2 Corinthians 1:12 NLT). He could say, without a shred of insincerity, that his actions were completely above board and God-honoring. His letters had been straightforward, with no hidden meanings or agendas. The fact that they could not understand what he had written or simply refused to agree with his had been a disappointment to Paul, but he could only hope and pray that one day they would see the truth and sincerity of his teachings.
But Paul’s main concern was that they would understand and appreciate his integrity and honesty. He was a man of his word. He could be trusted. His “Yes” meant “Yes” and his “No” meant “No.” There was no reason to ever doubt that what Paul wrote, he meant, or that what he said was true. Paul viewed himself as a representative of Christ, having been sent by Christ on a mission to spread His gospel to the world. And Just as Christ had been God’s representative and had always done what God had commanded Him to do, so Paul was a faithful representative of Christ. One of the amazing things about Paul, is that even while attempting to defend his own name, he pointed the people to God. He reminded them of God’s faithfulness. God was never duplicitous or deceitful. He was trustworthy and true. “For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding ‘Yes!'” (2 Corinthians 1:20 NLT). Jesus Christ was the ultimate fulfillment of all of God’s promises. He was a physical representation of God’s love, having come to earth, taken on human flesh, lived a sinless life, died a sinner’s death, and rose again on the third day. Jesus could be trusted, and because Paul was His chosen representative, Paul could be trusted as well.
There will be those who doubt our word or question our sincerity. They will misread our actions and misunderstand or misrepresent our intentions. But the important thing for us to remember is whether or not we can claim as Paul did, “Now I call upon God as my witness that I am telling the truth” (2 Corinthians 1:23 NLT). Can we, with a clear conscience, endure ridicule or rejection, knowing that what we have said or done was neither misleading or untrue? Was our intention to tell the truth in order to further the Kingdom and encourage the spiritual growth of others? Was it to strengthen their faith and increase their joy? Paul was confident and at peace with himself because he knew that what he had said was true and that his motives were sincere. He was a faithful, trustworthy representative of Jesus Christ. They might not like his message, but they could never question the integrity of the messenger.
Father, sincerely want that to be true of me. But I know that far too often, my desires and agenda get in the way. I want my “Yes” to be “Yes” and my “No” to be “No.” Never let me forget that I speak on Your behalf, not my own. I am to represent You, not me. My words and actions reflect on You, either positively or negatively. If I claim to be Your child, what I say or do must represent You well. Continue Your life-transforming work in my life that I might care more about Your cause than my own reputation. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men