“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 6:11-13
Has anyone ever truly opened their heart to you? It is a rare and moving occasion when the facades fall away and someone shares their deepest self in a vulnerable and sincere way. I experienced one of those precious moments when a dear friend revealed her struggles to me. She had given me glimpses of what was going on prior to that day, but I couldn’t fathom the depth and gravity of the situation. As we talked, I felt my own heart begin to soften. I was able to love her in a new way and felt an inexplicable joy of authenticity and connection.
In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul exhibits the same kind of vulnerability and genuineness. He does not try to prove himself or defend his ministry so that he can be admired and revered. Instead, he comes to the people just as he is – a humble servant of Christ. Paul has nothing to offer them but the truth of the Gospel, his love for Jesus, and his love for them. As he closes this section, he refers to his readers as children. This is not to belittle them, but rather to illustrate their relationship with the spiritual father. Parents love their children with whole-hearted commitment, and yet those same children often rebel. They resist the steadfast love offered by their parents and seek out the fickle love of friends. If you have ever raised a teenager, you know what I am saying!
Although Paul has repeatedly demonstrated his unwavering love and faithfulness to the church, they have turned away from him and embraced false teachers. Like a good parent, Paul assures them he will not hold it against them. He longs for the relationship to be restored, not for his sake but for theirs. Counterfeit teachings are leading them away from the truth of the Gospel. Their hearts are growing hard. Paul’s deepest desire is for them to thrive – in their salvation, the building of the church, and their relationships. He offers his love and forgiveness, just as the father embraced the prodigal son. His arms and his heart are wide open.
Paul asks the Corinthians to widen their hearts to him, to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to the One whose love for them is perfect and unfailing. His call for believers today is the same as it was back then. Open and soften your hearts. Return to the true path. Receive God’s abundant grace and extravagant love. There are many false teachers in this world who seek to undermine the Gospel. They try to lead us astray with empty promises of an easier path or diluted versions of the truth. May we widen our hearts to God’s word, his Holy Spirit, and his faithful witnesses.
Reflect and Respond:
Is there hardness in your heart that keeps you from fully embracing the truth and power of the Gospel? The Lord is so eager to soften your heart and draw you back into authentic fellowship with him and the body of Christ. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the Living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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