“Called to be an apostle” (v.1). Paul needs to remember that, when it comes to the Corinthians. This church, dearly loved and gifted by the Lord (1 Cor. 1.4-9), are a tough crowd. They’ve not mellowed since Paul wrote to them in his first letter, and this epistle shows them with the same besetting sins – they are proud, cold and difficult. Paul longs that they would remember that he is an apostle, sent by the Risen Christ. He has truth to tell, and love to share. They need to open their hearts to him, if they are to be open to the Lord who sent him.
He is suffering for the Saviour, and has no shame in it (vv.1-11). So many believers, then and now, see suffering as failure. Paul doesn’t. Nor does he want his suffering to be a failure in his own life, leaving him bitter or discouraged. Rather, he is learning to find God’s comforting grace in his trials, and is eager to share that comfort with others (vv.3-7). he is convinced that God is utterly trustworthy (vv.8-11). So how are you doing? Is your suffering making you hard-hearted, or growing in humility and gentleness? And will you allow the Lord to use your knowledge of grace to reach out to other struggles with? that is His will for you.
He is committed to the Corinthians, even if it might not look like it (vv.12-24). Sometimes Christian leaders have a really hard time of convincing those they serve that they really do love them. Paul does. Leaders need to say hard things, make unpopular decisions, and don’t have all the time they would like to give to people. Paul feels he needs to defend himself against the suspicion that, because his travel plans have got messed up and he hasn’t managed to get to Corinth, that he’s not a true friend of the believers there (vv.12-22). Not at all!, he’s saying. He is their committed servant. He is, afterall, “called to be an apostle”, and every commissioned servant of Christ has a mandate of love. Reflect on the gorgeous statement of ministry intent, in v.24. Then ask yourself, do you trust your leaders? Are they working for your Gospel joy? And will you allow them to love you, in saying the things you like, and the things you don’t? It may well all be for your own good.
A Prayer to Pray
Lord Jesus, Head of Your church, thankyou that in You all of God’s promises are true and trustworthy. Empower me by Your Spirit to believe them, and change my heart to seek the joy of others in You, with transparent love and perseverance. Amen.