There was a drift happening. Once they had been very tight, now, not so much. Once they had fully trusted in his authority, his words, and his motives. Now they weren’t so sure. The bro-mance (as in brothers and sisters in Christ) wasn’t what it used to be. Something was coming between Paul and the Corinthian church. And in Paul’s estimation, “It not me . . . it’s you!”
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)
2 Corinthians is as personal and passionate a letter as any of Paul’s letters.
There were those who had come into Corinth seeking to discredit Paul’s apostleship, his authority, and his authenticity. They sowed seeds of doubt as to his character and his motives. They cast a shadow over his professed love of them. And so Paul writes a letter of defense as he contends for the believers at Corinth. Not that he might be something, but that Christ might be everything. Not that he might find favor, but that the Corinthians wouldn’t turn their back on the favor of God’s full and gracious provision in Christ.
And Paul doesn’t pull any punches. The problem, he says, isn’t me, it’s you. It’s not our openness, it’s yours. It’s not a matter of our affection, but of your hesitation. It’s not because of our hearts, it’s because of yours. Widen your hearts!
Make broad the seat of your affection. Throw open the door of your devotion. Trust me again. Know that the words I have spoken have been words sourced in heaven and spoken in sincerity. That I contend for you not for the sake of my ego but for the sake of your eternity!
And as I hover over Paul’s impassioned plea I hear the Savior echo his words, “Widen your hearts to Me also! Open them up!”
If we’re drifting in our relationship with the Lord, if things are cooling off between Him and us, “It’s not Me,” Jesus could say, “it’s you!”
Something has caused us to withhold our affection from Him who has loved us without restriction . . . loving us unto death, even death on a cross. It’s not as if His heart is not open wide to us . . . for if the Father “did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32)
No, it’s us. It’s me. My faith has wavered. I’m holding back for some reason. I’m listening to the wrong voices–whether they are the voices of the world beckoning me to “broaden my horizons and gain more balance in my life” or, the voice of the accuser trying to convince me that His grace isn’t really as amazing as it needs to be for a wretch like me. Instead I need to hear my Good Shepherd’s voice as He calls out with heart wide open, “Widen your hearts also!”
By Your grace . . . for Your glory!