Summary: God has many good gifts for His children, and His way is to pass them along using His ordained chain of command. Link inc. to formatted text, audio/video, PowerPoint.
Saint Paul is Coming to Town!
Paul is ready to return and face the folks at Corinth. But will they be ready for him? He represented spiritual authority, but would they accept his God-given authority? God has many good gifts for His children, and His way is to pass them along using His ordained chain of command.
For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong. Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children [2Cor. 12:13-14].
Paul, you see, was their spiritual father. He had led them to Christ and had founded the church of Corinth. He didn't want to burden them, he wanted to bless them. He wasn't seeking to take from them, but to give to them.
And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved [2Cor. 12:15].
Paul says, "The more I love you, the less I am loved in return." It sounds like a complaint, doesn't it? But the Spirit of God insisted that he not tell about what he had seen in heaven but that he tell about his sufferings and disappointments down here.
Sadly, the entitlement mindset is still alive and well in the church today. The attitude is, "What have you done for me lately?" We get spoiled, and accustomed to others doing for us and we take them for granted saying, "That's your job!" instead of truly appreciating them.
But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile [2Cor. 12:16].
Oh, notice this. He says, "I wasn't after what you have, I was after you; I wanted to win you for Christ." Isn't that what the Lord Jesus had told His apostles? He said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matt. 4:19) -- and He didn't say that every fish they caught would have a gold piece in its mouth! He made them fishers of men -- that is the emphasis.
Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you? I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps? [2Cor. 12:17-18].
Paul didn't use clever methods; he preached the Word of God in simplicity. He didn't send other men along after him to make a gain out of the Corinthians.
Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying. For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults [2Cor. 12:19-20].
These are the things Paul expected to find in the church when he would get there. They expected a great deal of Paul. Paul expected a great deal of them. But what would he find? There would be debates and arguing.
I have been in the ministry for 20 years, and I am now to the place where I am in no mood for debate unless it has the chance of being fruitful. Occasionally I get long letters from some who follow us online and want to debate a doctrine or a statement I've made. For the most part I say, go on with your viewpoint and pray for me so that, if I am wrong, I will be led to the truth by the Spirit of God. You will not convince me with a long letter, because, frankly, I don't have the patience to read it. Someone may say that I am very bigoted and narrow-minded. Well, maybe I am, but I just don't believe that arguing and debating accomplish anything. Our business is to get out the Word of God, and I am not attempting to debate anything. I teach the Word as I come to it as I teach through the Bible.
The contemporary church is filled with the things Paul mentions here -- debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, and backbitings.
"Have you heard about So-and-So?"
"No, I haven't heard."
"Well, I want to tell you."
Then they say some pretty mean things about a certain individual. And there are the whisperings. Someone has said that some people will believe anything if it is whispered to them.