The Letters of Paul give us a great glimpse into his Pastor’s heart for the people of God. Paul certainly had his detractors in his day and even today some people don’t like him very much. When he was alive, he was hounded and criticized by different groups within Judaism and outside Judaism.
The Corinthian Church seemed to be especially divided in their opinion about Paul, even though he was their father in the Gospel. In 1Cor. 4:14,15, we read these words of Paul: “I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.” There were many in the Corinthian Church who loved Paul and realized that he was sincerely and sacrificially serving the LORD.
But there were others in Corinth who criticized Paul. Some were saying: “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing (2Cor. 10:10).” Paul responded in a balanced way. He did not back down to exercise his pastoral authority on one hand, and he did not stop demonstrating great love on the other (see 2Cor. 10-13). Paul’s greatness as a servant of Christ is seen in how he held in dynamic tension these two pastoral characteristics. Any seasoned Pastor will tell you how difficult it is to exercise your God-given authority in a loving and redemptive way. In fact, any mother or father can testify how difficult it is to have the right balance between honey and vinegar in raising children in a godly manner.
May the LORD grant us grace and wisdom so that we would have the right balance between admonishment and affirmation. May we follow the footsteps of Paul as he followed the footsteps of Jesus. In Christ’s love and service, Pastor John