Hearts wide Open
Hearts wide Open
Words of Faith 10-26-17
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
<>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <><
2 Corinthians 6
 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you.  We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us.  As a fair exchange, I speak as to my children, open wide your hearts also.
Whatever failings Paul may have had, hiding his true feelings was not one of them. Here he just laid it on the line, "We have poured out our lives for you. We have not withheld anything. We have poured out our affection for you but you have not given back. You are withholding. It isn't fair. Isn't it a fair exchange, I speak now to you as my children, open wide your hearts to us also."
Wow. Very direct. But Paul had expressed an unrestrained affection, splanchnois, and now he wanted the Corinthians to reciprocate, so he said so.
The depth of Paul's feelings is especially clear because he called them "Corinthians". Only rarely did he name his readers in the midst of a letter. When, for example, he was greatly concerned about a degrading of truth in the Galatian churches, he sharply rebuked them by name (3:1). But he also appreciated the Philippian church's faithful support of him in the early days of his ministry and in his prison experience calling them by name (Phil. 4:15). In this case, Paul was blending a little frustration and affection when he hailed the "Corinthians" and called for them to respond with unrestrained love, "My children, open wide your hearts."
Paul's admonition illustrates the fact that genuine ministry of the gospel anticipates a genuine response. Love expressed toward the people in Corinth should be met by a warm affection in return. Paul wasn't engaging in a popularity contest with his opponents. By appealing for the affections of the Corinthians, he was really fighting for their lives. He was just looking for a life connection with them and for them. His confidence in the truth of his message and in the transparency of his testimony led him to expect that those who know God would open their hearts to Paul as well.
There is a very personal and practical part of this in realizing that leaders need encouragement and warm affection. There is a reciprocity of relationship with spiritual and pastoral leaders. Christian pastors, leaders, staff and missionaries are servants, diakonia, but they should not be considered by the Body as table help to be ready at a beckoned call and then complained about if they miss something. Expressions of affection and gratitude are significant, powerful and necessary.
Paul wrote to Timothy regarding leaders "who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching" (1 Tim 5:17). Here, Paul wasn't really asking for honor, just a mutual affection from the believers in Corinth whom he had poured his life into.
This is good to hear this from Paul. He helps us to realize that pastors, missionaries and Christian workers are ordinary human beings, with limited energy, time, and strength. They have down days and dry times in their faith walk. They get discouraged when facing unrealistic expectations or verbal discouragement from the very people they are serving. They need something back.
Research shows that 1500 pastors leave the ministry each month in America and the most common reason for leaving is simply discouragement. Research also shows that 90% of pastors work more than 50 hours a week; 80% believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively and 40% report a serious conflict with a parishioner at least once a month. Something to think about.
In the practical mode we might ask: Am I withholding affection from my leaders or my pastor? Am I holding back encouragement? How about your church staff? Are you finding ways to encourage them? Is your heart wide open to them?
Lord, help me to see the ways that I can be encouraging to those who serve You. Open my eyes to the ways that I can lift a burden or lift a spirit. Help me to open my heart wide to those you have called to serve and create the life connection that I need and that they need. Forgive me if I have been a discouragement. Set me free from the spirit if criticism. Open my heart wide. In Jesus' Name.