By Carl McMurray
Our mouth has spoken freely to you, 0 Corinthians, our heart is opened wide. You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections. Now in a like exchange I speak as to children open wide to us also (2 Cor. 6:11-13).
Paul reminded the Corinthians in this passage that he had been completely open with them in heart and speech. He had shared with them commendation, rebuke, love, and tears. There was a problem, however, in that some in Corinth were being led to attack the apostle. Not being willing to accept correction and desirous of Paul’s authority as an apostle, it seems a few were leading the congregation to question, doubt, and otherwise be suspicious of the apostle. The natural result of this action, however, was to cause barrier walls to be erected between the inspired teacher and his students. The apostle points out that although he was not “restraining” them, they were still very much being restrained by themselves. They were holding back their true and real affections in this matter, and Paul encourages them to let go and open up their hearts. The things he had taught them and the things he was still teaching them had to do with love, openness, and fellowship. No part of gospel truth practiced or taught openly can cause harm to man. It is only those motivated by selfishness or coveting power and preeminence who desire walls to go up, things to be done in secret, and hearts to be closed against their fellow man.
Isn’t that the way it is? There seems to be no end to the amount of love that the human heart can hold. We are not limited to just loving one, but are able, year after year, to add to the list of “loved ones.” One’s heart never seems to “fill up” so that we must say, “I just can’t love one more.” On the other hand, just a little hatred or envy seems to completely fill us. There is suddenly no more room in the heart when jealousy moves in. Love is brought to a halt and even past love is squeezed and damaged by this evil influence. The clear fact seems to be that God did not design the human heart to carry evil suspicions, doubt, motive judging and coveting. They don’t fit well and when we accept that load from Satan, it is an uncomfortable one that is borne with much sorrow.
We need to listen to the apostle’s advice to Corinth. We often need to quit “restraining” (tying up, holding back?) ourselves with the burden of a bad attitude or selfish motives. We need to “open wide” our hearts and let these sinful burdens fall away. We must learn to accept and deal with one another in an open and loving fashion as Paul said he had done with Corinth.
When you appreciate the activities or attitude of a brother or sister, go tell them so don’t be “restrained.” If you love one another, say so. Likewise, if there is a problem, go talk to that Christian and deal with it. Let’s leave the “mind games” and “rule keeping” to the politicians and lawyers. Let’s “open wide” our hearts and talk to one another instead of about one another. When we learn this principle of doing things openly and not looking for hidden motives, great things are in store for us. We will all be profited by being able to accept correction better. Parents and Bible class teachers will work together for the benefit of the child rather than one fearing the reaction of the other. Preachers and congregations will work together as a team instead of one trying to control the other. Elders will come out from behind closed doors and quit making decisions for the congregation instead of “leading” the group to make decisions for themselves. And the list goes on and on.
Nothing but good can come from a gospel of openness and love. Let us not wait until trouble arises as in Corinth and we have to be told this in correction. It is Satan that wants us all tied up and burdened. The Lord would set us free through truthful behavior with one another. Let’s open our hearts and be not restrained.
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 15, p. 19-20
August 5, 1993