Misunderstandings And A Clear Conscience
Some people like to blame others when they misunderstand what has happened. Worse, if they have been holding a grudge against somebody, they see their actions through that lens - believing they have found an example of bad character and wrong motive. That was Paul's experience. The minds of the believers in Corinth had been poisoned against Paul by so-called super apostles with powerfully attractive personalities. They said that Paul came and went, but did not care.
Paul did not blame them for misunderstanding why he had not visited again as he had hoped; instead, he was open about his conscience. It was quite clear. They themselves knew that Paul had lived what he taught, treated them with respect, been patient with their faults, did not ask for money for himself and longed that they might receive God's grace. When he taught them face to face, or through letters, he was very direct. His message was not wrapped in mystery or confused by academic or contemporary ideas. He imparted the truth plainly, with godly integrity and sincerity.
Nobody can make anyone else understand their motives, but Paul wanted the Corinthians to think about his total dependence on God's grace. He admitted how he previously came to the completely wrong conclusions about Christians, until the Lord spoke to him directly. He remembered how easily his own thinking became violently hostile to Jesus and the church. But the Lord had changed his heart. Paul's hope was that the believers in Corinth would also have a change of heart; that they would support his gospel mission, welcome and obey his teaching so that the gospel might grow instead of being defaced by in-fighting within the church.
Misunderstandings are easily resolved where love is assured. However, when relationships have been poisoned, suspicion and blame dominate. Like the apostle Paul, we are all sinners; but when we see our sin and repent, the Lord gives a confidence to move forward with a clear conscience. If we have been slandered, it may not be easy for others to trust us until the passage of time assures them of our sincerity. Likewise, we need to look out for every opportunity to re-establish relationships with those who have offended us. Most of us have learned the folly of letting misunderstandings fester, and of listening to those who speak against others. May believers near you be as glad that You are serving the Lord, as you are wanting them to do the same. Live again with a clear conscience through God's good grace.
© Dr Paul Adams