The apostle Paul had a special place in his heart for the church at Corinth. 2 Corinthians 7:4 helps us to see the kind of relationship he had with that congregation—“I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.” Let’s take a closer look at this verse and see what we can learn about how Paul related to the Corinthians.
Notice how Paul says that he has spoken to them with great frankness. Whether it was in person or through his letters, Paul did not mince words with the church. He did not attempt to scratch anyone’s itching ears. Instead, speaking the truth in love, he told them what they needed to hear. Paul chastised the congregation concerning several matters, including: the divisions they had in the church, their tolerance for sexual immorality, the fact that they were filing lawsuits against one another, their lack of love for each other and their chaotic worship services. Paul didn’t pull any punches. His reprimands could be quite harsh. He was clearly not pleased with many of their actions, and he spoke quite frankly with the church about correcting their wrong behaviors.
Does your preacher speak to the church with great frankness? Can you count on him to point out from the Bible how certain behaviors are incompatible with Christianity and to challenge those who are sinning to repent? We live in an age where many church-goers would take offense at such preaching and would be quick to seek out a church where the preacher would not be so demanding as to insist that Christians actually obey Jesus!
It is refreshing to hear of preachers who are not afraid to speak frankly to their congregations. They understand that in order to truly love their people they have to be outspoken about sin in the church and what must be done to correct any serious misbehaviors. It is also encouraging to see that some church members are mature enough to accept a much-needed rebuke when they hear one. Too many people claim to follow Christ, but they don’t want to hear about the need to make any changes in their attitudes or their actions.
By the way, the duty to speak frankly is not limited to preachers only. Every mature believer has the obligation to help straying brothers and sisters to get their priorities in order and get back on the path of following Jesus. Galatians 6:1 says, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” Jude 22-23 implores us, “Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” James 5:19-20 states, “My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”
The Bible clearly states that we need people in the church who will speak frankly the truth of God’s Word. And the church needs to listen carefully to those who speak such truth.