"Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves before you? We are speaking in Christ before God. Everything we do, beloved, is for the sake of building you up."
(2 Corinthians 12:19)
Ulterior motives. We, who are in positions of leadership, are sometimes accused of having them. People may second guess or mistrust something we do because they believe we have ulterior motives. We couldn't simply be doing them for the outward purpose it seems. Or we're trying to "cover our backsides," so to speak. If they are correct, shame on us. However, if their fears are unfounded, we can look to Paul for encouragement.
Paul has quite a tenuous relationship with the church in Corinth. He loves them dearly, but they tend to drive him crazy!!! For starters, their behavior is quite often not up to God's standards. So Paul then chastises them, which they don't take well. They accuse him of false motives... of being too hard on them... of his trying to defend himself for them.
One sentence from Paul stops me in my tracks: "Everything we do, beloved, is for the sake of building you up" (v.19). Wow. Everything?! What would it mean for me to have this as my "pastoral mantra"? That everything I do for my church (and people) would be for building them up? Or what about with my kids? Or Jody? Or my friends? Heck, what about soccer referees (okay, that might be a bit extreme!)?
PRAYER: Lord, you build me up. You do not provoke. You bear patiently with us in our weaknesses. Help me to follow your lead. Help me to lead the church with that insight. That everything I do will be to build up the church members. May that be the mark of my relationship with Jody, Ezra & Emily, too. Everything. AMEN.