Summary: In this lesson we learn the importance of keeping our word, and the fact that God always keeps His word.
A. The story is told of a groom who approached the minister during the wedding rehearsal with an unusual offer.
1. “Look,” the groom said, “I'll give you $100 if you'll change the wedding vows. When you get to the part where I'm supposed to promise to 'love, honor and be faithful to her forever,' I'd appreciate it if you'd just leave that out.”
2. He passed the minister a $100 bill and walked away satisfied.
3. The next day, in the middle of the wedding ceremony, when it came time for the groom's vows, the preacher looked the young man in the eye and said: “Will you promise to obey her every command, serve her breakfast in bed every morning, and swear eternally before God and your lovely wife that you will not ever even look at another woman, as long as you both shall live?”
4. The groom gulped and looked around, and said in a tiny voice, “Yes,” then leaned toward the minister and hissed: “I thought we had an agreement.”
5. The minister slipped $100 bill into the groom's hand and whispered: “Your bride made me a better offer.”
B. Promises, promises, promises – so easy to make, so hard to keep.
1. We hear promises all the time…
a. “I’m not trying to sell you anything.”
b. “With our product, you will lose 20 pounds in 20 days.”
c. “This will only take a moment of your time.”
d. “This won’t hurt a bit.”
e. “There is no risk or obligation.”
f. “If I’m elected, I promise to…”
g. “Read my lips…no new taxes!”
C. Whether it be politics, business, sports or ministry, it seems that at every turn our trust is not merely being violated, it is being shattered.
1. We are becoming conditioned to disbelieve everything and everybody.
2. We are becoming so skeptical and jaded.
3. Is there anyone who is trustworthy? Is there anyone who will keep his or her word?
4. Sometimes, we wonder.
D. In our text this morning from 2 Corinthians, we see Paul trying to repair his relationship with the Corinthians.
1. We see him addressing some of the accusations about him and his ministry.
2. But in the end, we see Paul pointing the Corinthians attention toward God and toward the trustworthiness of God’s promises.
3. So let’s work our way through today’s text and learn the lessons God would want us to apply to ourselves.
I. Understanding the Word
A. Look again at 2 Corinthians 1:12-14: Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God's grace. 13For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand. And I hope that, 14as you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus.
1. In these verses, we begin to catch the undertones of the accusations that the Corinthians were leveling against Paul.
2. They must have been saying that there was more in Paul’s conduct than met the eye.
3. Paul’s answer to that was that he had lived with holiness.
4. Paul declared that there were no hidden actions in his life and that his conscience was clear.
5. We might well add a new beatitude to the our list – “Blessed is the person who has nothing to hide.”
6. The word that Paul used for “holiness” described something which can bear the test of being held up to the light of the sun and the heat of the sun.
7. Paul believed that he had conducted himself in the world and in relation to them in a way that could stand up under intense scrutiny.
B. There must also have been those who were attributing hidden motives to Paul.
1. His answer was that his whole conduct was directed by sincerity and according to God’s grace.
2. There were no hidden motives in Paul’s life.
3. Paul was called and commissioned by God. In many respects there was nothing he could do, except obey God and carry out his calling – kind of like Jonah.
4. If we are honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that we seldom do anything with absolutely unmixed motives.
5. Even when we do something good and fine, it is usually entangled with some little bit of selfish motive.
6. Someone has said that “purity of action may be difficult, but purity of motive is even more difficult.”
7. Such purity can come to us only when we too, like Paul, can say that our old self has died and Christ lives in us.