2Co 12:14-17 “Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved. But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile. Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you?”
In spite of all the difficulties he had encountered, Paul was purposed (ready) to visit the church at Corinth again. Even though his character and purpose had been called into question by the “false apostles,” Paul still intended to come to them. Paul was purposed to come to them in spite of the fact that some at Corinth were ready to believe lies about him. Paul’s focus remained on the One who had called him.
Being a man, I imagine it would have been easy for Paul to take the attitude that he just was not going back any more. The church had not shown him the depth of love he deserved. Some had said things about him that was not true. His feelings had been deeply hurt by some there. Surely, he would have been justified to just write them off.
None of us like to have our feelings hurt. However, the Biblical example is that is no reason to abandon church. We have not been called by the church but by God. We need to be always focused on Who we serve, and be always ready to go as the Lord commands.
Paul is quick to assure the brethren at Corinth that he does not intend to “make them pay” for their attitude. As servants of God, it should always be our desire to seek the welfare of His children rather than how they can benefit us. In fact, we ought to have a heart for them as we would children. At the same time, we need to realize that Paul is not saying there is anything wrong with children looking after their parents as need might arise.
What Paul is pointing out here is something very telling about the Corinthian saints. Paul is calling attention to the fact that they were not mature in their Christian walk. They had not yet put away “childish” things. Paul’s love for them was such that he was still “ready” to come to them.
His love ran deeper than his pocket. We see so many examples of people who try to buy their children things instead of being there to give of themselves. Paul was willing to give up his goods (spend). More importantly, Paul was willing to give himself (be spent). Paul was willing to do that even though the feeling was not reciprocal at that point.
It is easy to become discouraged when we try to love people that do not seem to want our love. Paul observed that the more abundant his love for the Corinthians was, the less they loved him. Some of this stemmed from the fact that Paul loved them so much he was willing to tell them the truth instead of just what they wanted to hear. What we want to hear and what we need to hear is not always the same thing, unless the Spirit of God is leading us.
It should be noted that Paul was not telling the Corinthians that he had entrapped them in some way. According to the use of the language, when Paul said “But be it so,” he was referring to the broader evidence that he had not been burdensome to them. This was evident in such a way that Paul’s enemies could not make such a charge stick. Instead, they were resorting to the subterfuge (being crafty) that while Paul had not done so personally, he was sending others to make gain of them which would eventually find its way back to Paul (caught you with guile).
It was this issue that Paul addressed with his question in verse 17. He is again calling their attention to the facts. He acknowledges the accusation, and then he requires the Corinthians to examine the facts. His question is rhetorical and calls on the Corinthian brethren to acknowledge the truth.
May God give us the grace to recognize that our service is first and foremost to Him, to walk faithfully in our calling, and seek to help each other to put away childish (worldly) things and mature in our walk with Him!