Now I call upon God as my witness that I am telling the truth. The reason I didn’t return to Corinth was to spare you from a severe rebuke. But that does not mean we want to dominate you by telling you how to put your faith into practice. We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy, for it is by your own faith that you stand firm.
2 Corinthians 1:23-24 NLT
Sometimes I want to help people that I see in need, but their ways and their words and their visible actions make it clear that they are not interested in the help that they truly need. And sometimes the Holy Spirit allows me to extend grace and bring gentle encouragement to them by helping them in both their physical needs and their spiritual needs. But at times, even when my plans were to help, the urgings of the Holy Spirit will guide me away from those plans and lead me along a path that I didn’t expect or close a door in front of me.
I used to get frustrated with myself for not always helping in every instance because I didn’t want to be without compassion. I looked at 1 John 3 and knew that I had not been living and compassionate towards others in my life, so being compassionate towards those in need is a continued focus in keeping my prideful nature under control.
If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.
1 John 3:17-19 NLT
But as a watchman and as a keeper of my brothers and sisters, when I see others in danger of destruction, I cannot hold my tongue and allow them to go on to destruction unaware of their final destination – so when others’ lives demonstrate that they are still a slave to those things that the Word of God tells us “will not inherit the Kingdom of God”, I not only want to warn them so that they might turn to Christ and know salvation, I also have a duty myself to share the Truth and the Good News of Christ.
But there are those who have heard the truth but who do not have ears to hear. There are those whose hearts are hardened against the truth. There are those who are not ready to yield their lives to Christ. And these people are not uncommon, many of them even sit in pews or carry the title of Christian even though they have no interest in bearing His name in their daily lives as a living example and sacrifice. I know, because I used to walk that lost sheep walk as well.
And when I was deep in darkness and turned away from God’s will, separated from fellowship with God, I had no real interest in hearing His voice – so even an encouragement or even a rebuke would not have produced the immediate response that someone would have wanted in return. You see, I was a pig, and casting pearls to me could have put them in danger of me turning on them. And I wouldn’t have turned on them because I hated them, but, I could have turned on them because my flesh hated the truth of the light and what it exposed in my own heart.
You see, sometimes the Lord protects us by not allowing us to jump in the mud with the pigs and get torn to shreds by our compassion and benevolence towards those who might be a danger. There have been times that I intended to help someone and the door was closed. I used to let the enemy use that against me as I would let guilt and shame creep in. But now, I understand that a closed door is sometimes for both my protection and for their protection. He knows best.
And don’t misunderstand what I am saying – make no mistake, if I use this as an excuse to have no compassion towards others, I am blind and stumbling and lost. But walking in the Spirit is more than a set of “if this, do that” rules for our lives.
Many are not ready to hear the truth. Many are not ready to yield to His will. And I believe that in this case c with Paul and the church at Corinth, that Paul wanted to go see them and help them. But it was clearly evident to God who knows all things what Paul’s required response would have been towards the state of their lives of those in Corinth at that moment, and knowing what was best both for Paul and for the people, He closed a door on Paul’s plan because, He had a better plan in mind.
By bringing Paul’s motives into question in the minds of those at Corinth who expected Paul to follow through on what he said he was going to do – Paul’s plan to return to them – it put them in the right frame of mind to receive a message about them not following through on what they said they were going to do when they accepted Christ. And it closed off the door of them being in a defensive stance where they might have seen a rebuke from Paul as judgemental and condemning – even though he would have been fully justified in rebuking them for their rebellious lifestyles.
Isn’t it amazing how His ways wind and turn and shift things so that even the closed doors, even the broken plans, can be worked out for good when we are faithful. And it wasn’t even the people at Corinth that were faithful in this instance, but they received a blessing and an encouraging correction in the right time and in the right way because Paul was faithful to follow the guidance of the Lord instead of insisting on adhering to his original plan.
So there are a few points that I pay attention to in this lesson:
1) that the letter of the law isn’t meant for us to use to domineer over others who are lost – it isn’t a sword to be drawn against the lost and used to slay them – but they need to hear and know the truth of sin and the good news of Jesus Christ
2) that the Word of God and the Law of Christ is meant for His Children and that we should stand firm upon it so that we enjoy the fullness of a life redeemed and abiding with the Lord – or we need a correction or a rebuke
3) those of us who have the spiritual discernment to understand what is happening and can identify the dangers and snares should be ready with encouragement, correction, or even a rebuke
4) that we should be Holy Spirit led and accepting the doors that are opened and closed and having faith that He is in control and that His plans are better than our own
5) that we shouldn’t see correction or rebuke as any less loving than simple encouragement, as long as it is spoken in truth – otherwise are we seeking God’s will for our lives or just seeking others to join us in justifying our own sinful lives that are headed to destruction
Have Faith & Walk Upright, Child of God.