Every Monday, 12:00 AM
Simplicity and Godly Sincerity
From Ligonier Ministries
Second Corinthians, we have noted, was written in the aftermath of a difficult visit of Paul to Corinth and a letter of rebuke to the congregation. Although the church had repented of its behavior since that visit and letter (2 Cor. 7) and the relationship between Paul and the Corinthians was being restored, some points of tension remained. One remaining sticking point, we will see, had to do with accusations that Paul was prone to insincerity and duplicity on account of his changed travel plans. In today’s passage, the Apostle begins to answer those accusations.
Paul begins his response indirectly, not referencing the travel plans but speaking of his attitude and approach. He notes in 2 Corinthians 1:12 that his conscience was clear because he behaved in his ministry “with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God.” In other words, the Apostle’s decisions were not guided by craftiness or by a cunning spirit in which he sought to manipulate those to whom he ministered. Paul was not an insincere man who made plans knowing that he would not follow through. He never intended to deceive or to proceed according to his own design.
Jesus exhorted His people to “be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matt. 10:16), and Paul’s description of his own behavior toward the Corinthians illustrates our Lord’s teaching. Paul was no fool. He was mature in his thinking and wise to the ways of the sinful world (1 Cor. 14:20). But he was not one who steered things to his own advantage or intentionally disappointed others. He was “innocent,” making his plans according to what he could see, knowing that he could not hold on to them too tightly. He was unafraid to alter his itinerary when unforeseen circumstances arose, confident that God was working in and through even what he did not expect.
The Apostle strongly believed that this was evident to the Corinthians even if some were questioning him when he wrote 2 Corinthians. That is why he says that the Corinthian believers had at least partially understood him. He was even confident that they would fully understand that at the return of Christ, when Paul’s sincerity would be confirmed abundantly (2 Cor. 1:13–14). Let us follow his example by striving to be so sincere and godly in our actions that our consciences have no reason to question our motives. As we do so, it will be evident to all that we are true to the Lord in our intentions.
It can be easy for us to deceive ourselves and to wrongly see impure motives as sincere. Nevertheless, let us endeavor to do our best always to act with sincerity, simplicity, and godly wisdom. The more we are transparent with others about our goals and the more willing we are to serve them, the more sincere we will be.