Paul is almost done with his defense. And we have seen how well he defended his ministry using sarcastic statements. We also have learned that even in plain reasoning, a man who lives righteously though being accused will in the end prove himself upright in the sight of the Lord.
In verse 1 of this chapter, Paul will be coming to Corinth for the third time, first was when he had their mission trip, the second was the “painful visit”, and this will be the third time.
In this planned visit, Paul is encouraging the Christians at Corinth to repent especially those who have sinned so that he won’t have to be harsh in implementing discipline.
Furthermore, Paul is actually teaching the Christians at Corinth to do better things than listening to the false teachers who stirs up division inside the Church.
Here are the things that are better to do than stirring up division inside the Church.
Put yourself to the test (v.5).
Our tendency as ordinary people, as an observer in the church, as a member, is to see “what’s wrong with our church”. We have the tendency to criticize everything and sometimes, everybody in the leadership. Sometimes, we even dare to question the calling of our ministers.
In contrast to this, Paul is encouraging everybody to test his own self first. In verse 3, Paul mentioned about some people asking for a proof of Paul that Christ is really speaking to him. And so Paul just returned the questioned to them.
In verse 5, Paul commanded the Christians, “examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.”
This implies two things. First, it tells us that Christ will prove our faith whether it is genuine or not. Our very own actions and motives will tell us whether or not we are approved to God. We ourselves knew if our faith is genuine. We can probably hide it to people, but not to the Lord.
Secondly, it also tells us that we don’t need to prove others to be weak for us to become strong. The problem with some Christians, they tend to look at others as weak, to prove themselves to be more spiritually mature.
We might not notice this most of the time, but one thing is sure, we have to be careful in criticizing others because once we criticize, it is assumed that we ourselves are not offenders or at least we know that we can do and implement what we want to happen.
For example, there was a man who has been criticizing all about the mission programs of the Church. He even concluded the pastor and other church workers were lazy to go out to mission. He has been criticizing that the Church mission program is not effective. But, he himself was never involve in mission, he rarely give something for mission, and worst thing, never brought someone to Christ because of bad testimony.
Now these kinds of people were the “brood of vipers” whom Jesus was pertaining in Matthew 12:34; “Offspring of vipers! How are you able to say anything good, since you are evil? For the mouth speaks from what fills the heart.” To go in the context, Jesus was talking to the Pharisees, the people who suppose to know and understand the truth and the word of God. But still asking Jesus to give and show them the proof of what he is preaching.
This is why it is very important that before we see other people’s speck, we need to clean our own eyes first (Matthew 7:3). This is a very important character that we need to develop to which we usually neglected.
Criticism by the way has a very thin line with being opinionated. Being opinionated means being narrow-minded. Opinions might be brilliant, but being opinionated is being narrow minded.
Do everything for the sake of the truth (v.8)
A minister of Christ cannot do anything against the truth. Now, I am not saying that a minister of Christ will never sin. But the passage here means that a minister of Christ has a “sort of” mandatory obligation to only do what is upright.
A minister of Christ cannot compromise with the system of truth that we need to protect and defend at all cost. Our own individual secular professions gives us a mandate to do, similarly, a minister of Christ, a person that Christ called has a mandate to obey the truth.
When people look for exemption from sin, we speak for the truth. When people want to depart from the Bible, we speak for the truth. When people tried to twist the message of the Scriptures, we speak for the truth. This is our mandate, our inherent credo as someone called.
And the same thing is what we wish that all Christians whom we minister will do, just as Paul said it in verse 9; “For we rejoice whenever we are weak, but you are strong. And we pray for this: that you may become fully qualified.”
Ministers of Christ were not called to agree with the world. We were not called to teach false doctrines. We were not called to make exemptions from sin. We were called to obey God.
“Truth hurts” as what they said, but you will know the truth, and “the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32).
Use the authority for building up and not for tearing down (v.10).
God gave the ministers the authority to lead the people towards Him. He gave us the authority to administer and minister the people.
But that authority was purely intended to build up God’s Church. But notice how Paul used this kind of authority. Was it harsh? Yes, it was harsh. Paul did not say it face to face, but he made a document out of it, that we ourselves in our own time witnesses how Paul implemented correction to a group of people.
Paul did not use flattering words for correction. He used direct and revealing words in correcting those who sinned. He did not say, “that’s ok” or “that’s understandable”. He used sarcastic words and direct words for sins. What can be so comforting about correction? Would someone feel literally happy when corrected? No, when corrected, we to take it as a correction that build up.
It is not about what we feel. It is about what God would feel with our actions. So if we were corrected on things that we do wrong, we should not feel like retaliating nor rebelling, rather we should feel that we are loved because God disciplines the one He loves and chastises every son he accepts (Hebrews 12:6).
As Paul closes his letter, there are several things that we have to do:
1.Be perfect (v.11) – to set things right, to put those things that has been corrected in order. It is like saying obey what has been commanded and corrected.
2.Be of good comfort (v.11) – be encouraged. Don’t let others discouraged you. This letter is for building up and not tearing down.
3.Be of one mind (v.11) – to be of one mind is to understand each other having one direction. This is an emphasis of the unity inside the Church. When there is division, there is no direction.
4.Live in peace (v.11) – just like a soldier of Christ, we need to put the boots of the gospel of peace. It is always necessary that we live at peace with everybody so that we can put forward the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
5.Greet one another with a holy kiss (v.12) – The equivalent of this act of greetings in our culture is shake hands, “beso-beso”, putting our fore heads in the fore hand of the elders.
And the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit will be with us all.