4:18 Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. 21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?
Ah the impossible position of dealing with those who are in error. In traffic a guy will cut you off and then give the one finger salute as if you are to blame. a cheating spouse will constantly accuse the faithful one of cheating. Satan is the liar yet accuses God of being the liar.
How do you discipline a person in rebellion? If you show mercy they get more emboldened. If you don't show mercy you are accused of being a tyrant. The two great accusations against God are that He doesn't fox the mess the world is in yet for the times in history when He did step in He is accused of being a tyrant, a genocidal maniac.
Paul loves the church in Corinth. That love will not allow him to sit by quietly while the church destroys itself through infighting. First he states the truth. In Christ they are saints. In Christ they perfect. However that miracle grace does not erase who they are in the present world. Behind the curtain of His perfect grace there is a work or restoration taking place. Satan is doing everything he can to stop it. Every victory for him is a step closer to believers giving up and returning to the Christless life they lived before.
Ironically the root of all sin is our lack of trust that God sees us as perfect and will heal us inside until we match His picture of us. Some of that healing will occur here. Some may not be completed until we eat from the tree of life, the leaves of which are for the healing of the nations.
When we don't trust we start meddling. You know we do. We say we believe the score was added up correctly but we take the sheet and double check. We say we trust our friend but we listen in on coversations or read things we would feel no need to read if we really did trust. People are not trustworthy. Sometimes the score is wrong and sometimes friends lie but not Jesus. He said he would come and He did. He said kingdoms would rise and fall in a particular order and they did. He said Judas was the betrayer and he was. He said he would both die and rise and He did. Jesus is faithful. Never has a promise been broken. When He says that in Him we are saints and perfect He is not lying. No meddling will improve upon it. Quite the opposite actually. Rules we invent to become more holy end up becoming what we worship and Christ is forgotten.
Now back to Paul. Love demands he do something to address the mess in Corinth. Tough love will make some accuse him of being a bully or a tyrant. Gentleness will be interpreted as weakness.
In the words of Paul I see the dilemma of Jesus. "Some of you think I'm not coming but I am. Would you like Me to come with a rod or in love and a spirit of gentleness?
The sun melts butter but hardens clay. The sun is the same. It never changes. The variance is with us. Will we be butter and melt into His saving grace or harden against Him and seek to save ourselves with our meddling?