We’re nearing the end of our time in II Corinthians. It has been an amazing journey of discovering Paul’s heart for his disciples and his desire to see restoration and renewed fellowship with the Corinthians. At times, his words were harsh and strong, and he did not hold back in telling the Corinthians the truth of the matter. But why this long letter? We know that he was planning on visiting this church in person, so why write too?
Paul gives us the answer near the end of the book.
“For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.”
~II Corinthians 13:10
Paul’s purpose for writing was that he would not have to be severe with discipline in person. He wanted the Corinthians to fix their problems before he arrived so that his visit may be one of encouragement and not chastisement. For not only would the Corinthians become greatly discouraged by a visit filled with rebuke and correction, but it would hurt Paul too. For his authority was given by God to build up and not tear down.
The Greek word for building up literally means “architecture, i.e. (concrete) a structure; figurative confirmation, building, edify.” Conversely, the Greek word for tearing down means “demolition; figurative extinction, destruction, pulling down.” This is the same word used in II Corinthians 10:4 when Paul mentioned “demolishing strongholds.” Paul’s authority was not given to tear down, utterly decimate, and destroy the church. He was commissioned to build it up, to design and construct as an architect would a glorious building.
So while Paul’s words of discipline were harsh, they were ultimately meant to build up the Corinthian church. He was not pursuing their destruction, but sometimes one must tear down a faulty wall before building and continuing. Likewise, the Corinthians had some faulty walls that needed removal in order for them to become the beautiful church God designed.
License to build. That was what God gave Paul in the form of his apostolic authority. And this shows God’s heart. He doesn’t want to tear down or demolish His church, but wants it built up. Therefore, He gives his ministers license to build and do all that it takes to make sure the building is done rightly and in accordance to His divine plans.
We may not always like the building that God does in our lives. Sometimes it may feel like we’re being torn down, but when those times come, we must remember that God’s ultimate goal is for building us up. We may have constructed some weak walls that need tearing down, but it’s so that we may be made stronger and more transformed into His likeness.
So what type of building is going on in your life right now? Do you feel like there is more demolition than construction?
Just as Paul was given license to build the first century churches, God gives faithful ministers of His Word authority to speak truth into the lives of others. So whether you are on the receiving end of someone’s God-given authority or are the one given the authority, remember the purpose and intent of God’s heart. He wants to build and not tear down.
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