Chapter 6:3-12 (ESV) - We put no obstacle in anyone's way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.
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.
Question to consider: Why was there so much opposition to Paul?
Paul did everything he possibly could to make sure he did not add to the offense of the gospel. He didn’t impose unnecessary restrictions or requirements for being a Christian, and he didn’t accept a dime from anyone other than those who purchased his tents.
This is actually saying a lot because it was common at that time for people to charge large sums of money to perform miraculous signs or healing arts, and much of that was illusion and snake oil. Not much has changed today with televangelists, spiritists and pharmaceutical companies making billions of dollars off of the desperation of the afflicted.
Paul’s sincerity was demonstrated by his willingness to endure tremendous hardships and abuse from those who hate Christ. In the midst of his mistreatment, Paul and his companions demonstrated the fruit of the Holy Spirit which shone like a light in the darkness they faced. They never once wavered from the truth, and God attested to this with miraculous signs and wonders.
Paul called these things weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left with the left hand being the evil they endured and the right hand being their righteous reaction to it. One of the ways we discern the sincerity of an individual is by the outward reaction to them. When someone presents a truth for which there is no valid counter-argument, the opposition will instead begin to attack the person.
Paul constantly dealt with those who tried to undermine his authority and ministry because his righteous actions shed light on their hypocrisy and greed. Yet the more Paul endured, the more it exposed those who opposed him because the Corinthians could recognize that Paul bore his very heart to them and had no other motive than to love them and desire that they be in a right relationship with God.
Dear heavenly father, we thank You that You put no requirements on us for salvation other than faith in Christ and His sacrifice for our sins. Help us to deal kindly with those who hate us and build up in us a desire for everyone to hear the good news of Your great salvation. Please give us the resolve to stand firm in our faith and abide in Christ. Amen.