2Co 13:8-10 “For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection. Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.”
It appears that Paul had a twofold message here. First, he and those who ministered with him were not enemies of the truth. They were not false teachers seeking to make a profit off the backs of God’s children. Secondly, the rebuke that Paul gave in his writing was not against those who were walking uprightly before the Lord.
Paul’s love for the truth and for the saints at Corinth was at the root of his admonition to them. He was not trying to discourage them by pointing out their problems, but rather to encourage them to repentance and a closer walk with God. His desire was to use the truth to shield them from the deceit of false teachers. Paul knew their liberty would be found in obeying the truth.
It is not in our human nature to want to appear weak. However, being led by the Spirit, Paul was able to say that he and his companions were glad to appear weak; that is, to have no reason to show great authority over the church at Corinth. He assured them that he rejoiced when they were strong in the faith. It was for this strength, or perfection, in them that Paul labored.
Paul again shows them his great love for them in the writing of this letter. He was willing to tell them these hard things in his writing, in the hope that he would not have to seem harsh when he finally came to be in their presence. His purpose was never to tear down the saints. His desire was to see them built up and strengthened in the things of God.
We live in a time today when there seems to be little concern for the things of God. I am not talking about the things going on “out in the world.” Paul did not write to the city of Corinth, but rather to the church at Corinth. It is not the action of unbelievers that should cause us to sound the alarm. Rather, the apathy of those who claim to believe in Jesus should give us great concern.
No one likes to be told they are not doing right in their life. We would much rather speak soft words to His people and see smiles on their faces. However, this is not always according to the power the Lord has given us. We fail His children when we refrain from telling them the truth, even if it hurts.
If we are for the truth, then we cannot call good that which God calls evil. If we are for the truth, then we must preach the whole counsel of God. If we truly love the church, then we must be willing to do what God has called us to do even if that seems to make us despised by the very people we love. Failing to tell God’s people the truth as it is in Christ Jesus leads to destruction.
May God give us the courage to speak the truth in love, even when it means we must use sharpness!