For our proud confidence is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you. For we write nothing else to you than what you read and understand, and I hope you will understand until the end; just as you also partially did understand us, that we are your reason to be proud as you also are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus.Although I should know better than to presume to offer writing advice to an apostle, inspired by the Holy Spirit, it does seem to me that the second paragraph of this passage would have been easier to read had Paul used a few quote marks around some of those yeses and noes. Of course, in my ignorance I don't even know if quote marks were used by first-century writers of Greek. Maybe not. But surely they were known to the translators who produced the New American Standard, so perhaps my suggestion should go in their direction. Anyway, no matter. A careful reading clears up any confusion.
And in this confidence I intended at first to come to you, that you might twice receive a blessing; that is, to pass your way into Macedonia, and again from Macedonia to come to you, and by you to be helped on my journey to Judea. Therefore, I was not vacillating when I intended to do this, was I? Or that which I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yes, yes, and no, no at the same time? But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no. For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us -- by me and Silvanus and Timothy -- was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. For as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes; wherefore also by Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.
But I call God as witness to my soul, that to spare you I came no more to Corinth. Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm.
What I take from this passage today is an appreciation of the mutual responsibility of believers. Paul is conscious of himself as a blessing to the Corinthian church, and of them as a blessing to him. His reason for seeing himself this way is that he has behaved with integrity, both toward them and toward people in general. He is, he says, a worker with them for their joy. And because he can't rightly be accused of false dealing with anyone else, either, they need not be ashamed to be associated with him. Contrast this with some who are identified with Christianity in our day. It would be hard to say, "Yes, I'm a Christian. You know, a Christian ... that's right, like that fellow Ted Haggard that you've heard about." More to the point, it's much harder to be taken seriously in that context.
As always, click here for more Words for Wednesday.