I recently had a conversation with someone that shared their spouses perspective of someone that they have known for a long time. The spouse mentioned that this person has been consistent for as long as they have known them. The testimony was that they were who they claimed to be. This should be the testimony of those that we share life with. The Bible reminds us of the importance of being consistent!
We currently are working through the book of 2 Corinthians in our Celebrate Summer Series – “Genuine Ministry.” The book of 2 Corinthians, on the surface, is the Apostle Paul’s appeal to a congregation that had false teachers attempting to lead it away from Jesus. But for this to happen the false teachers must destroy the Apostle Paul’s credibility and tarnish his testimony before the members of the congregation. What results from Paul’s response is a picture of “Genuine Ministry.”
Paul’s first response addresses their first accusation of his fickleness and lack of integrity. He responds to an non-issue in 2 Corinthians 1:12-24 of him promising one thing, his future travel plans with what really unfolded due to Satanic opposition and the Lord’s leading. This is the case of most personal attacks to tarnish a person’s reputation, important information is conveniently left out.
We are going to see in this passage, and in the rest of 2 Corinthians as our study progresses, the significance of Paul’s testimony against unfounded personal attacks. It is almost impossible to respond in situations like these but Paul reminds us of a couple ways that we can respond. The first is, “Make a decision on what you would always do.” I have traveled with reimbursed expenses in the business world as a pastor. I get frustrated with those that make different choices when they are spending someone else’s money. I have found that first I must adhere to any guide lines. If there is freedom then I make the choice as if I was spending my own money. If I was eating out, I would not buy the most expensive item on the menu, if I would not normally order it. The significance of this is, as the Apostle responds, “For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity” (2 Corinthians 1:12a) He reminds us that he, as a follower of Jesus, is accountable to the Lord, and his conscience is clear. Regarding the situation in question he did what the Lord would want him to do. Notice there is no fear, or trying to cover the choice made.
The second response is, “Communicate in advance and be transparent!” Anytime some attempts to hide information, even if it is unintentional, others view the situation with caution. It seems it is just human nature to assume the worst. I know this is not Christian but it is the way it is. We often forget that the absence of information provides an opportunity for the Devil to instigate trouble. The Apostle responds, “For we are not writing to you anything other than what you read and understand and I hope you will fully understand—” (2 Corinthians 1:13) He reminds them that he has already addressed this situation in advance and they should have been aware of the changes. Paul’s response here was to communicate as soon as possible. The next verse reviews again that his plans were changed. This is not him being two faced, telling people one thing, then doing another. It was simply that circumstances, out of Paul’s control, required a change of plans.
Let me encourage you to be a person who keeps your word. We all know of people that don’t. We might say, “You know so and so, they are always __________ (fill in the blank)!” The result of your consistency is a testimony that magnifies the work of the Lord Jesus Christ in your life!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson