Yes, I am afraid that when I come God will humble me before you and I will be sad and mourn because many of you have sinned before God and don't even care about the wicked, impure things you have done. –2 Corinthians 12:2
The apostle sends this warning shot of a letter to the Corinthians, stressing that this is not about his ego but about their spiritual failings. The wisdom in Paul’s writing helped correct the early church and transcends time to teach us.
We learned from our brother earlier that he had asked God three times to remove the thorn in his flesh, but the Lord replied that his grace is sufficient and allows the physical handicap to remain. The thorn has matured Paul’s humility, and he is now grateful for it.
Here we get a picture of why, because Paul can predict what is about to happen when he returns to Corinth. God is going to lead him into speaking conviction to his beloved family, and this leading will cause Paul to embrace humility before God and those who have gone wildly astray.
Humility will enable Paul to be an agent of God’s righteous conviction, speaking truth but also feeling the heartbreak of the Father. Paul admits that he had a tendency to be prideful. The old Paul could have dished out conviction with no emotion—no problem! Shoot, this is the guy who used to help kill Christians!
This beautiful reading captures an image of “new Paul”: clear-minded about righteous behavior but sharing in the Father’s sadness for His lost children.
Good and Gracious Father,
I come from a long history of using pride to protect my heart, to wall it off from feeling the pain of sharing in your heartbreak. But today I consider that Paul rejected pride and embraced humility as a means to convict with compassion, to correct with the tender spirit of the Christ. We were created in your image, God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit. As your children, we were designed for community, not isolation.
I give you permission to recalibrate my heart. Bring it back to its original design, to be in communion with you, with others and within my soul. Forgive me from comforting myself with isolation, preferring to be alone with my pride rather than be in community through humility.
In the name of Jesus, my all in all, Amen.