have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? it is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved. for i fear that perhaps when i come i may find you not as i wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. i fear that when i come again my God may humble me before you, and i may have to mourn over many of those who sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and sensuality that they have practiced. [2 corinthians 12:19-21]
are you or someone you know a major excuse maker? i know i’ve done it before. if someone’s ever made continual excuses about something to you instead of just owning the mistake, it’s easy to be constantly frustrated with them. it’s much easier to make excuses when you feel like you’ve got something to defend, right? for instance, if i think my own reputation is on the line, i might make some excuses to try to get away with my reputation intact.
in this text, paul is assuring the corinthians that he’s not making excuses about his behavior, because there’s nothing to excuse. paul has been walking in the truth of the gospel and, although the message of the gospel has fallen out of favor with the corinthians, it is still the truth.
as Christians, we often feel the need to apologize for the parts of scripture that are harder for the world to accept. but we could learn a really important lesson from paul here – when you walk in the truth of the gospel, you answer only to Christ. and so there is no need to excuse what you believe or how you’ve behaved when you’ve believed and done what Christ requires of you.
so first, paul says – i answer only to Christ, so i’m not trying to make excuses to the corinthian people. but then, paul lists off what he fears he may find when he visits the corinthians again. look at that list again – quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. this list looks like the exact opposite of the fruits of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control [galatians 5:22-23].
where there is unrepentance, you will find you are growing dead fruit. the opposite of the fruits of the Spirit. paul is worried that the Lord will use the corinthian people to humble him, so that he must plead with the corinthians in person to repent. but paul is earnestly pleading to the corinthians to save him the sorrow of mourning over them in person, and repent now!
what’s needed is a miraculous move of the Holy Spirit to convict the hearts of the corinthians and cause them to repent, allowing the early church to be unified in Christ once more. today’s church could learn from this as well. don’t listen to the voices adding or taking away anything from scripture, repent when you have allowed yourself to be led astray, and seek unity with your Christian brothers and sisters.
ask yourselves these questions today:
- does the fruit i’m producing look more like the fruit of the Spirit in galatians, or the fruit of the corinthians?
- if i’m producing bad fruit, where have i refused to submit to Christ and repent that has led me here?
- how can i actively pray and seek the Lord this week to bring more unity between myself and the body of Christ?
~ erin boettge