By Tom M. Roberts
Introduction: Christians, Elders, Preachers often miss out on fellowship, love and a close relationship with each other because they fail to extend themselves toward one another. What should be the most tender and fulfilling relationship on earth becomes empty and cold. We are cheating ourselves of life’s richest moments. The solution: “Be ye enlarged” (2 Cor. 6:11-13; 7:2a).
I. Background Study: Paul and the Corinthian Church.
A. Acts 18:1-11 – the beginning of the church with Paul’s labors.
1. 1 Cor. 6:9-11 – they had been sinners.
2. 1 Cor. 1: 1-2 – they became saints.
B. Paul had supported self with labor and received support from other churches so as not to burden the Corinthians.
1. 2 Cor. 4:7-15 – all things were for their sakes.
2. 1 Cor. 4:9-13 – he suffered for their sakes.
C. Now, after all this, some were turning away from Paul.
1. 2 Cor. 10:7-12 – “they say” indicated enemies of Paul in the church.
2. Some members had cut off their love of Paul “straitened” their affections; stingy in their love; pressured to cut him out of their heart.
D. His solution: “Be ye enlarged”; “Open your hearts to us” (Text).
1. The scarcity of love was not that Paul was stingy in giving it but that the Corinthians had cut off their ability to receive it.
2. To be restored to previous fellowship required only an “opening of their heart.”
3. We also should be “enlarged” toward God and man.
II. Be enlarged toward God.
A. Many are unable to receive blessings from God due to their own “straitened” (narrowed, restricted) attitudes.
1. They think God’s way is too hard.
2. They believe God’s law too hard.
3. They think Christians have no joy in their lives.
B. When, in reality, their own attitude is the problem.
1. Matt. 13:10-16 – they have closed the eyes and ears and cannot receive.
2. Note v. 16: “Blessed” are those who see and hear.
3. Compare Psalms 23; Deut. 28:1-14; Mal. 3:10.
4. God has not quit loving and giving; we have stopped receiving.
III. Toward Man.
A. Churches become cold; brethren “bite and devour,” no real interest in work of the church; always blame someone else.
B. Problem often with self: “be ye enlarged.”
1. Use the seed principle: 2 Cor. 9:6 – don’t be stingy.
2. Lk. 6:38 – give and it shall be given.
3. Matt. 7:12 – the Golden Rule.
4. We are often robbing ourselves.
5. Don’t be stingy in giving or receiving the love of God or brethren.
Guardian of Truth XXX: 21, p. 654
November 6, 1986