April 22, 2014.
“Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong. You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. What then has become of your blessedness? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you, my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.”
Paul seems to have had a hard time with many of the Christians of his day getting them to take his word with weight. Time and again you can see Paul defending his apostleship, proclaiming that the gospel he is preaching is from God. He reminds many people about his complete transformation and quite honesty, if you didn’t know the context and just read one of his letters, you might think he was full of himself. But I don’t think that was the case at all. I believe the reason Paul had to work so hard to defend himself was because one, he had had a bad past of killing the followers of Christ, and two when people didn’t like what he had to say, it was just easier to say Paul didn’t have authority to say what he was saying.
I think we see this even today. Paul lays down some pretty hard concepts, and when the religious world doesn’t want to go by his guidelines, or they want to be more accepted by the world, it’s just easier to dismiss some things Paul has to say. Paul addresses this in the passage above. “Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?”
When we speak the truth, there are those who will get offended. This should not stop us from speaking the truth. There are people out there who do want to hear the truth, and we have failed at our duty if we do not spread the truth. Paul wasn’t afraid of the truth, though he did perfect how to speak it in love.
“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law though not being myself under the law that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”
(1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
I think Paul’s love was undeniable. He was on a mission to save souls, and we can take a lesson from that. It’s a lesson that I can’t say that I have mastered, if I am honest. However, the point I am making is that genuine love does not compromise the truth. In fact, genuine love abides in truth, and only truth. This got Paul in trouble with some people, but that didn’t phase him. Neither should it phase us.
On the flip-side of that, we should not immediately dismiss someone just because we don’t want to hear what they have to say about something we are doing that may be wrong. It is so easy to get defensive. But we need to realize that truth must stand, regardless of our feelings about it. That is hard, but necessary. This is again something that I need to work on.
Let us never become enemies of the truth.
Suggested Daily Reading: 1 Corinthians 9, Galatians 4-6.
The Lord bless you and keep you.