Sin: Looks like fun at first but the consequences aren’t so pleasant.
Paul has been struggling with this group in Corinth. He wants to see them but he refrains from going instead. He postpones his visit to them out of love and mercy.
We know from reading Acts that Paul has been moving about on missionary journeys since he met Jesus on the road to Damasks. He has also been directed by the Spirit as to where to go. He spent over two years in Corinth the first time. I’m not certain how many times he stopped back by on his way from one place to another, but we know there were a couple of times at least. He is committed to the churches he has planted and tries to visit them to bring encouragement and more instruction.
These are happy times for Paul. He is eager to see the growth and maturity they have attained through their search of the word and the Spirit’s leading. But this church isn’t growing like expected. It has been experiencing several issues.
We learned in Acts that Paul is an accomplished orator. He knows how to get his point across and how to stand up against an argument. He prefers to be the bearer of good news though. When it comes to correction, letters serve him best. When I was reading ahead he comments on the fact that his letters come across much stronger when it comes to correction than he does in person.
He seems to be able to confront non-believers with strength and conviction. Is he as comfortable with face to face confrontations with believers? Maybe he was scarred from his disagreement with Barnabas over John Mark. Maybe that is the way the Spirit instructed him to handle these kinds of issues.
It’s probably a good thing for us that Paul chose this method. He didn’t have scribes at his regular meetings that provided us with his teachings. Because he wrote down these instructions we have them for today.
Because Paul loved this group he gave them time to get their act together. This is an example of him following God’s lead. God has been delaying Jesus’ return so there is time for ALL of those who will come to Him to do so. He doesn’t want to miss out on a single soul turning to Him. He has given us the instruction we need to make the choice and the change. We have to choose to listen.
Paul is praying for a good result from his letters. He is heartsick over the issues and is willing to give them every opportunity for change. Once he arrives he has to deal decisively with the issues. Reminds me of counting to 10 as a parent. But the consequences in Paul’s situation are eternal.
God does this with us individually too. He speaks to our heart to correct our sins. He provides instructions, encouragement, and incentive to change. But if we refuse to listen He will provide the firm correction we require. He loves us too much to let us continue on in our sin. For those who refuse to know Him that final correction is Hell. For those of us who do know Him, His correction can take on many different forms but it usually involves natural consequences for our sin. Illness, financial problems, broken relationships, and legal entanglements are just a few “corrections” that come as a consequence of our own sin.
Not ALL are a result of sin, but that is the first place a believer should examine when encountering these issues. No, God didn’t send them but by our own sin we stepped out from under His protection. You can’t expect the umbrella to keep the rain off your head if you won’t stay under it. But before blaming everything on sin, remember that even under the umbrella you still encounter the water from the storm. It is a part of being in this world. Whether it’s stepping in a puddle or the wind blowing the rain on your uncovered areas, we live in a fallen world and will get wet to some degree.
Father God, thank You for Your patience. Thank You for Your written instructions. I’m certain You would have gotten the information to us one way or another, but choosing this way was VERY expedient. One would almost think You planned it this way. (I’m sure You did.) I am certain though that You didn’t bring this group into their sin just to make a point though. You use what we present, whether good or bad, for Your purpose.
Thank You for the rain picture. Thank You that not everything bad that happens to me is some lesson I have to figure out. Thank You for Your grace because without it I would “earn” a LOT more trouble than I have. I have no excuse to complain though when my feet get wet from jumping in puddles. Remind me of this when I’m tempted to step into sin.