There were some among them who weren’t so sure about Paul. Self-proclaimed “super apostles” had come among them competing for their follower-ship. In so doing, they planted seeds of doubt concerning Paul’s credentials . . . and they had cast suspicion on Paul’s motives. So, not only does Paul write another letter to those in Corinth in order to contend for their faith, but he also writes to contend for his relationship with his children in the faith. And it’s got me thinking this morning of how important it is to have a heart wide open.
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.
(2Corinthians 6:11-13 ESV)
By way of degree, I would suggest that most of us, most often, tend to be somewhat guarded. That, on a continuum defined by “throw the door wide open” on one side, and “open the door just a crack with the safety chain still on” on the other side, most of us tend to cautiously approach relationships from behind the door . . . and that might be as true as anywhere when it comes to fellowship with the people of God.
We’ll extend our right hands on Sunday morning . . . we’ll greet one another with “Hi, how are ya’?” . . . and we’ll respond, “Fine, thanks” . . . but there’s a healthy distance being maintained in the midst of our close fellowship. Instead, I’m wondering if more of us wouldn’t benefit from a heart wide open.
A heart wide open . . . a broad heart . . . an enlarged heart . . . a welcoming and embracing heart. A heart so impacted by the gospel of grace that it throws the door wide open to the things of grace . . . and to the people who, like us, have known the blessing of grace.
Paul appeals to these Corinth believers “not to receive the grace of God in vain” (6:1) . . . to not let pass the current time of favor . . . to not constrain the day of salvation. Instead of believing the implications of the freedom found in the gospel, they were guarded and calculated and, as such, were restricted in their affections to those who lived freely in the reality of the grace of God.
They saw Paul swimming in the deep end of grace’s ocean and were perhaps a bit cynical . . . “He probably has water wings on.” They heard him calling them to join him, and jump in off the high board, and were maybe a bit distrusting . . . “Why? What does he really want? What’s in it for him? Is he really able to stay afloat there, or is he standing on something?” Paul was all in . . . but they weren’t so sure. Paul wore his desire for them on his sleeve . . . they responded with constrained, cramped, and compressed affections. What they needed was a heart wide open. They needed to believe the gospel and receive the grace . . . and then swim in the deep end.
In the latter part of this chapter, Paul would tell them not to be unequally yoked with idols . . . not so that they could become the temple of God . . . but because, through the gospel and by the grace of God, they were ALREADY the temple of God. Paul would instruct them to pursue the things of righteousness . . . not so that they could work their way on to God’s team . . . but because, through the gospel and by the grace of God, they were ALREADY the people of God, the sons and daughters of the Father. And, Paul would plead with those he considered his children in Christ, to widen their hearts also . . . not that they might receive more favor . . . but that they might know the fullness of that which they already possessed in Christ.
A heart wide open . . . towards the people of God . . . because of the grace of God . . . all for the glory of God.