Summary: God's love is a purifying force. God's love for us seeks to free us from all defiling influences.
2 CORINTHIANS 6:11-7:1 [GAINING PERSPECTIVE Series]
A FATHER APPEALS TO HIS CHILDREN
Love seeks to draw those loved nearer, and as we are drawn near to God our ability to love is enlarged and purified. God's love is holy and is therefore jealous of what would harm those He loves and keep them from returning His love.
God's love therefore is a purifying force. It causes us to seek that which would increase it and to abstain from what would decrease it. God here states His strong love for the Corinthians and exhorts them to keep themselves free from all contaminating alliances. God's love for us seeks to free us from all defiling influences (CIT).
I. LOVE'S FULL DISCLOSURE, 11-13.
II. AGREEMENT WITH CHRIST, 14-16.
III. THE PROMISE OF HOLINESS, 17- 7:1.
[Paul here resumes the tread of thought interrupted by his reflections into the glory of the ministry in 2:14.] At the conclusion of his fervent out pouring of spirit the apostle pauses to address the Corinthians by name, which is a mark of great love and warmth in his letters (Gal 3:1, Phil 4:15). Hear the deep emotion with which Paul addresses the church in verse 11. “Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened wide.”
Paul had not held back anything (spoken freely) in his portrayal of Christian service. He had spoken freely concerning the trials, the encouragements, the responsibilities, the judgements, the rewards that make service for God so glorious. His heart is open wide. [“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Mt 12:34). For good or bad, freedom in speaking forth is evidence of an unconstrained heart.] Paul opened wide his heart [Gk platynô, “widen”] and reveal himself as he is for all to see. Widening or enlarging his heart also gives the idea of increasing its capacity for sympathy and understanding.
In spite of all the problems and heartaches the church had caused him, Paul still loved the believers at Corinth very much. So often words of affection are left unspoken especially by men. Whatever failings Paul may have had, restrained affirmation of affection [splanchnous] was not one of them.
Verse 12 indicates the problem with the Corinthians lies in their inability to receive truth and therefore to receive Paul. “You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections.”
Paul has just demonstrated that moving deeper into Christ, maturing in Christian service gives freedom to become, to grow, to become more Christ-like. Growing in our freedom to serve Christ is unlike the unrestraint that the world invites us to live which brings bondage and constraint in the chains of sin. Neither Paul nor his co-laborers were the ones making them fill hemmed in, restricted, uptight concerning the things of God. They felt uptight because of their affections for things they should not no longer desire. Paul wants them to know the truth, accepting the truth about the binding of wrong affections and associations will set them free of them (Jn. 8:32).
Satan says set your affections free and enjoy the sins of the world. Little by little these things rob our God-given abilities as we get caught up in our misdirected longings. We see things we want to do, we see what we want to become, and yet the ability to discipline ourselves and go for them is no longer with us, we are bound by our present way of living. We want to break free and let our desire run even wilder yet the excitement, pleasure and ability to do so are no longer readily available. Man then blames God or the man of God for this restraint; but sin is always its own worst enemy. Sin restraints (Heb. 12:2-3), thus the freedom it promises is an illusion.
In verse 13 Paul tells them the way to find freedom in Christ again. “Now in a like exchange (reward) I speak as to children open wide to us also.”
If they want to have the same exchange or reward as Paul, they must go the same way Paul did. This following Christ into Christian labor is what brings about the freedom to move into new areas of growth and new areas of freedom to be all that you can be. But they had closed their heart to Paul and his message of Christian service. They were shutting Paul out of their affection. So he asks them to open-wide their hearts to him also, just as he had done first to God and then to them. Be enlarged, exchange their affections for the world, the people and things of the world and they will grow in the grace and freedom of God.
Paul had told the Corinthian believers his true feelings for them, clearly revealing how much he loved them. The Corinthians were reacting coldly to Paul's, but Paul explained that his harsh words had come out of his love for them. So he pleads with the Corinthians to return the affection that he and his missionary companions have demonstrated to them. [He makes this plea to resolve the problem caused by those in Corinth who are trying to turn the community against them.]