Paul's ultimate focus
|For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. 9 We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is for your perfection. 10 This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority--the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down. (2Corinthians13:8-10)|
He offers the following arguments:
- For Paul, the truth is all important. For him it is inconceivable that he could ever do anything against the truth. The truth motivates and drives him, the truth is his focus and his passion. The Corinthians can rest assured that Paul will always be for the truth and as such, even as he has confronted them and "boasted" about himself he has been truthful.
- Paul prefers weakness for himself and strength in them. This claim is backed by Paul's extensive "boasting" about the things that made him weak. Paul has repeatedly paid the price for the church to grow. The church has always been his first priority.
- His devotion in prayer for them is another of the ways that Paul is a worthy spiritual father to the congregation. He prays for their growth and development into perfection - any parent who prays for their child will identify with this prayer.
- He tries to deal with the problems prior to his visiting with them - he makes it clear that he dislikes conflict and doesn't enjoy throwing his authority around.
- But they should not doubt his authority. But they should understand what the authority is for - it is for building the them up.
I think this is a beautiful unpacking of Christian authority and leadership which should always be:
- truth-based and truth-centered;
- people oriented and sacrificially striving to see people grow;
- using authority only when needed
- building up the body of Christ.
May we be the same!