Working With You
Working With You
Words of Faith 8-30-17
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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2 Corinthians 1
 I call God as my witness that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth.  Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.
So why did Paul change his plans to visit the Corinthians? Paul had earlier begun to explain his change of plans. He had answered the criticism that his change of plans rendered his message unworthy. The defense of his integrity led to a digression regarding the way a believer is sealed by the Spirit but Paul now returned to explain his altered plans.
Paul understood that his changed plans had caused a problem in Corinth. Such things can be terribly disruptive. There may have been preparations in place for him and people waiting. Imagine a scheduled "revival" where the preacher fails to show up. Or a "church homecoming" where the founding pastor unexpectedly does not attend. Paul could not just phone ahead with the change of plans. Messengers were slow and probably late with such news.
But Paul's concern in make this change had been for the Corinthians. We can hear the strength of his declaration-- I call God as my witness. With a "solemn oath," with God as the Judge, Paul staked his life on the truthfulness of his explanation which followed. It was out of consideration for the Corinthians, a desire to avoid disciplinary action, "to spare you" that Paul had deferred his visit.
The point of this visit was not to lord authority over the Corinthians believers. Even though he had great authority as an apostle Paul was reluctant to wield it. He did not lord it over their faith. He did not domineeringly take advantage of the fact that they came to faith in Christ through him.
Paul's experience in the world of religion had taught him that dictatorial means can produce compliance but not the obedience of the heart that comes from faith which he sought. Authoritarian domination was the manner of false apostles and the kingdom they serve-- "such men are deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ" (2 Cor. 11:13).
This was not the way of Christ. Jesus once said-- "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves" (Luke 22:25-27).
We sometimes think of Paul as powerful and dominant because he dealt with tough issues and stood his ground in tough situations. But this letter reveals a tenderness in the heart of the Apostle. He understood the way of the Master and it was not one of lording over or dominance. Paul assured the Corinthians that "We work with you"-- literally "we are fellow workers". He did not work against them or over them.
What do we gain devotionally from these expressions of the heart of Paul? A lot, if we will listen.
As believers it is easy to fall back into "religion mode"-- which is really "worldly mode". It is easy to start thinking more about "authority" than about the Kingdom of God. We can get so caught up in "who's right" that we miss the issue of who God is saving and by what amazing grace He does so. It's easier to get upset about a "change of plans" than it is to offer a hand of support. It's easier to complain about changes than it is to try something new. It's easier to make demands or claim our rights than it is to serve as Christ served.
For today, I will choose. Will I follow the way of the world-- lording over-- or the way of Christ which seeks to serve? Will I follow the way of religion-- demanding my way and proclaiming my rights-- or the way of Paul which is to "work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm".
Father God, help me to walk today in the way of Christ Jesus. Help me to work with others toward mutual joy in You as we stand firm by faith. Help me to make the right choices today as I seek to respond to encouragements and disappointments. In Jesus' Name.