The word of the day is “Yes.” When our faith is challenged, we are tempted to become unsure of the promises of God’s Word and doubtful of its preaching. Today in 2 Corinthians 1:12-20, Paul defends himself from the charge that he vacillates. He says, “Yes” sometimes, and “No” other times, and “Yes and No” most times (vs. 18). Today we will find that Paul admits his change of plans. But he insists that his motives, methods, and message are constant. By his constancy, Paul seeks to reflect the faithfulness of God whose “steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 118) and whose Word is everlasting (Psalm 119:89; Matthew 24:35). We learn from our reading that we can rely on the consistency of God’s Word and His good will for us. And we consider what we must do when we are uncertain of the dependability of God and His Word.
The reason behind the criticism that Paul is undependable is that Paul has changed his plans to visit the congregation. He first planned to come after he passed through Macedonia. But then he unexpectedly dropped everything and made his “sorrowful visit.” Then he meant to return to Corinth. But he canceled his intentions again and wrote to the Corinthians instead. It seemed like either Paul was hiding his true motives and intents, or he could not make up his mind (vs. 17).
Paul’s Only Motive Is to Preach the Gospel
In our reading, Paul responds. In summary, he insists that his only motive is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. And his only intent is that his hearers accept the grace of God and live according to it. Moreover, the apostle maintains that he “conducts his affairs with simplicity and godly sincerity” (vs. 12). Furthermore, he notes that he does not preach worldly wisdom. As he said in 1 Cor. 2, he did not come to them with impressive speech but resolved to know nothing among them “except Christ and Him crucified” (vs. 2:2). Consequently, he wrote, “My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Cor. 2:4).
With God There is Only “Yes”
Therefore, Paul maintained that he is not indecisive in his proclamation and his way of life at all. But by openness and forthrightness, he reflects the unchanging truth of the Gospel. You see, the Almighty God of steadfast love does not waver. He does not offer His promises only to take them back again. With God, there is no “Yes and No” (vs. 18-19), but only the constant affirmation of all that He pledges. His Word is not a blunt instrument that He uses haphazardly. It is a sharp sword that cuts through all ambiguity and uncertainty to accomplish His purpose. Therefore, all those who hear His Word must say “Amen” to its message and affirm its teaching.
Especially in times of trial, we might think that God’s Word is uncertain, and His good will for us is in doubt. But then we should realize that our uncertainty is not the fault of the Almighty. Instead, we have mixed thoughts and feelings. Along with the voice of Christ, we are listening to other influences. Their messages swirl around in our minds, and the siren songs of the world confuse the call of Christ. In these times of hesitation, we should return to the foundation of our faith in the promises of God. Moreover, we should consider who makes these promises. As Chrysostom says, “Fear not, therefore; for it is not man so that thou shouldest mistrust; but it is God Who both said and fulfilleth” (NfPf1:12, vs. 20), that is, it is who God both speaks and fulfills what He says. If God fulfilled His promise of sending us a Savior and who kept His Word to send us the Holy Spirit, how can we have misgivings about His Word and will?