We have come to the end of another of Paul’s letters. He is saying his farewell to his Corinthian family, for a while anyway. This has not been an easy letter to write or receive. Paul addressed several critical issues, but he did it all in love.
Paul starts his closing greeting by mentioning familiar friends and associates. Aquila and Prisca had been with him in Corinth during his first visit. They are very invested in this group. I believe that is why they send a “hearty greeting in the Lord” to the believers in Corinth. Aquila and Prisca went on to host other churches in their homes as they moved about. They are currently in Asia as Paul is writing this letter.
No matter how many issues were in need of addressing, the believers in the other churches send their love and prayers. That’s what the body does. It doesn’t break down into little cliques and refuse to reach out to its other members. It bands together and uplifts its other members. That is exactly what Paul was calling for this body to do too.
Because of the difficult parts in this letter Paul wants to make certain that his audience recognizes that he is the one sending them this correction. They are under his authority as their spiritual father and he is under the direct authority of Jesus. His words are to be heeded and obeyed.
Paul’s words, “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed” can be applied to any of those who claimed to belong to the body but were only play acting. It’s time to separate the sheep from the goats. This letter will do this. Those that love the Lord will be willing to follow His instructions. Those who won’t need to be removed.
This is not to say that we don’t still reach out in love to share Jesus message. But that we don’t bring the one who has no love for the Lord and make him part of the body. Salvation first, then integration. The body cannot function properly when parts of it are “dead.”
Paul’s final words, “My love be with you all in Christ Jesus” speaks volumes. It hurt him to learn of the Corinthian’s issues. He would much rather have heart only good things about them but he HAD to know the truth. As their spiritual father he HAD to address their sin. It hurt him to do so but it would have hurt more to have ignored it. He wrote this letter with love. His love for them compelled him to act to protect their eternal soul. If he didn’t love them he wouldn’t have cared what happened to them. Now he prays that they love him enough to listen.
Father God, correction is never easy but when it is done in love it is tolerable and beneficial. I have “corrected” in anger too many times during my children’s lives. Those times are the ones that leave the biggest scars; on them and me. I can remember one time where I was so exasperated with my middle son that, by the end of the day, I could easily have hurt him. It didn’t matter what I did to try and stop his behavior throughout the day, he kept at it and worse. I threw him in bed that night and told him that I was so angry with him that I didn’t even want to see him the next day. I went into the other room and called my mother in law and vented to her. She talked about feeling that way some times with her children too.
After our discussion I realized something. I hadn’t talked to You about what I was going through that day. I hadn’t asked for Your help. I went back into his room and climbed in bed beside him. He was sleeping but I held him tight and prayed for both of us. That day broke something in me. It broke my stubborn independence on ME. It also broke my heart that I had spoken so cruelly to my little boy. That day still haunts me. I pray it doesn’t haunt him too, or any of his brothers and sisters.
Thank You for the love that finally broke through in my heart that night. Thank You for showing me the hurt I was causing him too. Thank You for reminding me of where I should go for my answers. Thank You for protecting him from me. Thank You for forgiving me for my sin then and reminding me of that forgiveness now. Please heal my children’s hearts from this wound in there is one. Please help me keep the lessons learned that day but turn loose of the pain. Help me remember to always act in love.