‘O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.’ — 2 Corinthians 6:11–13
‘I speak not this to condemn you: for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts to die and live with you.’ — 2 Corinthians 7:3
It is no secret that the church at Corinth was a difficult church, but it is also no secret that Paul dearly loved them. The very fact that we have 29 chapters written to them in the New Testament is proof of that. Also, we read things like the verses above where Paul says…
- I am opening my mouth to let you know that I have fully opened my heart to you.
- There is no ‘straitening ‘in us (no coolness, or crowding you out of my heart).
- You are like my children.
- You are in my heart, to die and to live with you.
This showed the tremendous love he had for them and for all the churches. He cared for them. When he had to rebuke them, it was very hard for him (2 Cor 7:8). When he had not heard from them for a while, he really worried about them (2 Cor 7:5). All of this showed his love and was a huge reason that they should have listened to him and not the others who were attempting to lead them astray.
This teaches us:
- We should listen to those ‘fathers in the faith’ who love us and stick by us far more closely than some teacher from afar (see 1 Cor 4:14-15). So often people listen to a person on the internet or some teacher they have never met much more than they listen to the heart of a pastor or brother who loves them dearly.
- We should be the type of pastors and spiritual leaders who love our flocks and care for them, even when they might go astray or do things that hurt us. Paul loved them even though they were cool toward him at times (‘straitened in your own bowels’ 2 Cor 6:12).
- We need to continually be opening our hearts to love and love more. Love is risky, dangerous, and hard, but it is the only way for a disciple of Christ. He asked us to love one another as He loved us (John 15:12).
How open are our hearts to others? How much do we really care? Are we closing our hearts or opening our hearts? Do we allow hurt and pain to shut us down? Or do we allow the grace of God to keep us loving, serving, and giving (2 Cor 7:6).