Paul's Change of Plans
12We can be proud of our clear conscience. We have always lived honestly and sincerely, especially when we were with you. And we were guided by God's gift of undeserved grace instead of by the wisdom of this world. 13I am not writing anything you cannot read and understand. I hope you will understand it completely, 14just as you already partly understand us. Then when our Lord Jesus returns, you can be as proud of us as we are of you.
15I was so sure of your pride in us that I had planned to visit you first of all. In this way you would have the blessing of two visits from me— 16 once on my way to Macedonia and again on my return from there. Then you could send me on to Judea. 17Do you think I couldn't make up my mind about what to do? Or do I seem like someone who says “Yes” or “No” simply to please others? 18God can be trusted, and so can I, when I say our answer to you has always been “Yes” and never “No.” 19 This is because Jesus Christ the Son of God is always “Yes” and never “No.” And he is the one Silas, Timothy, and I told you about.
20Christ says “Yes” to all God's promises. This is why we have Christ to say “Amen” for us to the glory of God. 21And so God makes it possible for you and us to stand firmly together with Christ. God is also the one who chose us 22and put his Spirit in our hearts to show that we belong only to him.
Leaders that break promises betray the trust of their followers. In our time, politicians, presidents of corporations, and directors of service organizations are expected to stand by their word. The demand for integrity is even higher for church leaders.
Paul, the missionary-pastor, had planned to make a double visit to Corinth on route to and from Macedonia. However, he was unable to fulfill his intention. Perhaps one factor was the life threatening situation in Asia. (Tomorrow’s reading offers a further and a more important explanation.) As a result, challenges to his leadership arose in the house churches of Corinth. Detractors alleged that he was fickle and unreliable. The public criticisms were dangerous both for Paul’s role in Corinth and his broader ministry, including the famine collection for believers in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians chs 8-9).
Paul responds in a forceful manner. (1) He and his ministry companions have a clear conscience. (2) His conduct has not been manipulative and calculating. He has acted with honesty, sincerity, and God’s grace and kindness. (3) His actions as a leader are grounded in God’s faithfulness to his promises through Christ.
Paul concludes this section with a reminder that God works to establish strong and healthy relationships in the Christian community. He has given the Spirit as a guarantee that all members of that community together belong first and foremost to him.
Spirit of God, help me to act with honesty, simplicity, and kindness in my relationships today. Enable me to reflect sincerely on my attitudes and actions so that I may be a person of integrity in your service. In the Lord’s name. Amen.