July 26 I Tuesday
“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbours for their good, to build them up.”
As we examine Scripture, we see the Apostle Paul as an example of how to gently and lovingly restore brothers and sisters into a right relationship with God—how to remove the speck of sawdust. In Paul’s letters to the Corinthian church, he addresses all kinds of sin and division within the church. With consideration, Paul writes the letter in advance to talk about issues that he sees so that he does not have to be harsh when he is with them. We also see the concerns that Paul has and his heart towards apostolic authority and leadership in the church.
Specifically in his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul describes his authority as an apostle and his posture as a leader within the church to help others in their walk with Christ. He explains, “This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down” (2 Corinthians 13:10). There are some important distinctions that Paul makes. Firstly, the Lord is the One who gives Paul the authority and entrusts him with stewardship. Secondly, the purpose of this authority is to build others up, not tear them down.
Paul further describes his attitude and heart disposition in his first letter to the Thessalonians. He writes, “Instead, we were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well” (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8). Later in the same chapter, Paul goes, “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into His kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2:11-12). As we reflect on both passages, did we notice the intimate and relational metaphors that Paul uses? A nursing mother and a father with his own children.
Paul’s authority as an apostle was meant to build up the church, to nurture accountability and to exercise discipline and judgment within the church; he was to always point people to Christ, to align their lives with their God-given position through the gospel. When we approach someone to speak into their lives, to remove the speck of sawdust or to nurture accountability among one another in community, may we do so with a heart like Paul.
Prayer: Almighty God, thank You Lord for all that You are in my life. May Your Spirit guide me when I speak so that I seek to build people up and not tear them down.