And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test. Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong-not so that people will see that we have stood the test, but so that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed.
Thoughts for Today:Rather than examining Paul, the Corinthians should have been testing themselves. Did their conduct reflect a heavenly call? How would they have done if they had submitted themselves to the same scrutiny they had placed Paul under? Jesus asked in Matthew 7:3-5: "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?" In the same way, Paul is telling the Corinthians, "Don't be hypocritical. If I don't pass the test, then none of you will either."
It was Paul's hope the Corinthians would stop being so hyper-critical of him and instead return their focus to the Lord and His work in them. If they did, they might realize Paul had not failed, but instead passed the most critical test of all - his Christ-like care and concern for them. However, regardless of the Corinthians' reaction to him personally, Paul still demonstrated the heart of a father. How so? Because he was more concerned about their personal well being and spiritual growth than he was with what they thought about him ("...so that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed.")
We see many of the Corinthians' type of problems in our churches today. Too many people think it is their job to be the pastor's critic. It's almost as if a pastor must pass a personality, speech or theology test each week in order to validate their employment. No one can survive, nor be an effective and healthy leader, under that kind of scrutiny. Not even Paul.
Questions to Ponder:Does your pastor need a little support? Has the criticism been flowing a little too swiftly? What can you do to abate some of the pressure placed upon your pastor? Are the critics hypocrites?