we are treated as impostors, and yet are true;  as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed;  as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.  we have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open.  you are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections.  in return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also. [2 corinthians 6:9-13]
in this passage, paul emphasizes that Christians must live in two worlds, with one foot anchored in a true home, more glorious than we can imagine, and one foot in an infinitely lesser, dimmer world as sojourners, knowing that it isn’t our home. this is how Christ lived, knowing that he had work and purpose to do here on earth, but longing to be reconciled to His Father. true followers of Christ will be maligned, insulted and endure sorrow and even poverty, but they know that the suffering they experience ultimately produces hope (romans 5:3-5) and maturity in Christ (james 1:2-4) in this world, and ultimate the joy of the Father (hebrews 12:2) in the next world.
paul wants to encourage the corinthians in this, and wants to deal with them reasonably– he has been unfairly maligned by individuals in the church of corinth, and there has been much dissension. he knows that any malice and slander he endures is for the cause of Christ. “having a wide open heart” is the way paul approaches the corinthians—he wants to exemplify humility meekness of heart and reasonableness—to show that he is open to criticism and feedback, knowing that he will sin, he will make mistakes, and is in need of correction by the word and other believers.
paul continues to tell the corinthians that their closed hearts have led to restricted affections–that is, their love for Christ has grown dull, they have sought other loves, leading to allowances for sin, gossip and speaking untruths about paul and his companions. he gives them this gentle command to reorder their affections: “widen your hearts also”.
first, listen to the encouragement of paul, and know that this world is not your home, the idols you make here, the pleasure you pursue, the pain you endure will pass away. when others insult you, when the world repels you for the name of Christ, you can endure, or grow in hope, character and maturity, knowing that this world is not your home. second, ask yourself–do I have a heart of stone? know that you are not immune to sin. seek humility and brothers and sisters who truly know you. seek correction with a wide open heart, setting your affections on Christ, knowing that through correction and even persecution you will grow closer to Christ.
~ conor eastman