2 Cor 6:13, “Now as a fair exchange- I speak as to my children – open wide your hearts*~ to us also.”
2 Cor 7:2, “Make room for us in your hearts*~; we have wronged no one, we have ruined no one, we have exploited no one.”
These verses give deep expression to Paul’s feelings toward the Corinthians. Paul had been deeply hurt by the Corinthians, yet he continued to pour out himself for them.
Paul described his sacrificial and dangerous ministry for them in 2 Corinthians 6:4–10. When Paul discusses his attitude toward the Corinthians, he says, “Our heart is wide open” (2 Cor 6:11), meaning that he loved them no matter how they responded to him.
Paul expands this thought in verse 12: “You are not restricted by us,” or better, “We do not withhold affection for you” (2 Cor 6:11NIV). Paul did not allow the Corinthians “to be squeezed out” of his affections by their lack of response to him. Naturally, Paul’s heart was expecting a reciprocating response, “Now as a fair exchange” (2 Cor 6:13).
It seems apparent that they showed little appreciation for his sacrifices for them. The principle for the church is to love their leadership in the same manner as they love the church. Have you ever been disappointed by the lack of response from others for your service to them?
Paul again demonstrates his love for the Corinthians by not making them feel bad or rebuking them; rather, he lays down a principle that as a leader, or anyone who sacrifices for his congregation, he should receive their appreciation as well. The aorist command means to “immediately decide to open wide your hearts.” Although directed at the Corinthians in their relationship to their pastor, Paul, the principle transcends the centuries to apply to us today.
So important is this command that he repeats it in 2 Corinthians 7:2: “Make room for us in your hearts.” This is the model for churches everywhere. There must always be a reciprocal expression of appreciation and affection. However, regardless of their response, Paul’s affection for the people of God would not change. His heart and his self-sacrifice for them would not be affected. This is the love of God in Paul’s life.
We must learn to love regardless of the response we receive, but ideally, the response should be reciprocal. God’s grace and closeness can make up the difference.
“Dear Lord, since You have commanded us to love one another, we surely are able to do it. Help me to understand how to ‘open wide’ my heart to my Christian family.”
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