Appearing to be Right

15With this assurance I wanted to visit you first, so you might have a double blessing. 16I wanted to pass through Corinth on my way to Macedonia and again as I returned from Macedonia, and then have you send me on to Judea. 17Was I being fickle when I wanted to do this? Do I set my desires according to human standards, so that with me “No” is both “No” and “Yes”? — 2 Corinthians 1:15-17

Some of you want me to go on quoting until Paul tells us that in Christ it is always “yes.” But that’s not the point of this devotional. Go read 2 Corinthians 1 and 2 for yourself to get the entire picture. It’s interesting that Paul’s point in telling us about how faithful Jesus is was not really so much to tell us about Jesus, as to let us know about how he was faithful in following the faithful Jesus. In other words, I could paraphrase what he’s saying to the Corinthians here as, “I preach Jesus who was faithful, and in carrying out his mission I’m faithful too, not fickle.” Paul was living the gospel he preached.

I was thinking about this passage in the shower this morning, and it suddenly connected with something in my life, and I think it’s something many of our readers might connect with as well. You see, I have some difficulty making the big decisions. I like to think about all of the ramifications, the impact on everyone both now and in the future, and be sure that I’ve got everything just right. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, it doesn’t always work out that way.

Jody, on the other hand, makes decisions quite quickly. I don’t think her decisions are any worse or less thought out than mine. They may be better on average. Her mind just operates a bit faster. But when the decision is made, we still can both find ourselves in the same situation. There will always be people who don’t really like what we decided, sometimes even when it’s not really any of their business.

I’ve been struggling to make a decision, and finally made it yesterday. I know some people are not going to like. Some people are going to object to the timing. Some people are going to be astonished. Now don’t think it’s all that earth-shattering. What I’m illustrating here is not the extreme importance of the decision I made, but the fact that when you make decisions, if other people know about them, they’ll feel free to criticize and misunderstand.

I then thought about Paul and his correspondence with the Corinthian church. Depending on how you read certain passages, we can be certain Paul wrote at least three letters to Corinth, almost certain of four, and one might go even for five or six. In the ones that we have (two to four, if the view of some scholars that 2 Corinthians actually combines two or three letters is correct), Paul is constantly explaining himself. The Corinthians seem completely determined to misunderstand what Paul says and does.

Paul goes to much effort to explain himself, and that’s what he’s doing in our passage. He’s trying to make sense of what was probably a difficult decision to make. I suspect that considering communications in that time, and the complexity of Paul’s work, he had to change his mind numerous times. He may even have developed a reputation for not being very reliable, not because he was unfaithful, but because he had to change plans to meet needs along the way.

Here’s what came to me in the shower. Take it for what it’s worth! If Paul had to explain himself for these decisions, why should I worry that certain people will misunderstand little decisions that I make? I will never satisfy everyone. That’s not an excuse not to take everything into consideration. It just means that once I’ve done the best I can, I can leave the rest in God’s hands. If questioned, I have the truth.

God is faithful, and his followers should be. But remember that just because you are questioned doesn’t mean you have failed. You won’t always appear to be right.

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