No one enjoys being misunderstood or having their motives questioned. By nature we're defensive and seek ways to vindicate our reputation. All too often we react rather than respond. Sam Storms draws on Paul's interaction with the church in 2 Corinthians 1:12-2:4 to provide some wisdom that we can apply as we seek to grow in godly communication:
- Don’t be quick to “read between the lines.” Unless past indiscretions or the preponderance of evidence indicate otherwise, trust your Christian friends. Give them the benefit of the doubt when they say they are sincere (vv. 13–14).
- Don’t always look for some ulterior and sinister motive in what others do simply because things did not turn out the way you wanted them to (vv. 15–16).
- If someone has proven himself faithful and devoted in the past, don’t be quick to believe accusations brought against him by an outsider. Be patient and give him an opportunity to explain himself. In other words, don’t jump to conclusions, for it just may be the case that you are the one at fault (vv. 17, 23).
- Don’t become frustrated or withdraw yourself from other Christians if they should prove fickle or unfaithful. Ultimately, your trust and dependence are not in them anyway, but in Christ who never fails (vv. 19–22).
- Finally, even if it means suffering unjustly and being slandered, avoid unnecessary confrontations. Don’t be too quick to vindicate yourself. Be willing to endure what you don’t deserve for the sake of peace in the body of Christ. The opportunity to clear your name will eventually come (v. 23).
Check out Sam Storms' new work on 2 Corinthians. This is highly recommended if you're looking for sermon prep material or rich expository devotion material.
Excerpt from A Sincere and Pure Devotion to Christ Vol 1 by Sam Storms.