During our weekly Bible Study, we were reading II Corinthians 6 where Paul is imploring the Saints at Corinth to open their hearts towards Paul and his companions:
11We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. 12We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. 13As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also.
I thought that an odd passage. Corinth? Where anything goes? Paul had quite a time working against the Judiazers and the pagan temple prostitutes. Then again, maybe not. Too often, people tend to hide their heart, lock away all emotions and vulnerabilities we have. This of course, is a safety mechanism. Who wants to get hurt? The people of Corinth were no different from any other member of humanity. Does engaging in habitual acts of promiscuity equate an open heart? Doubtful. One minister equated arrogance with pride that covers fear. I could see why the Corinthians were fearful. You've got the pagan worship, which apparently centered around sensual indulgences, as well as worshipping man-made idols (The goddess Aphrodite), then Paul and companions making the statement that the statue really didn't do anything (Seriously?) and now the Jews were coming in, and trying to take the Christian converts and put them under a law again. Could you imagine, being a citizen of Corinth, and not knowing which way to go? Hearts shut down. Even if a person took a stand for any of the beliefs... might there still be some doubts to 'what if I'm wrong??" Paul stayed in contact with the Saints at Corinth and encouraged them. However, he's noticing that their hearts are not opened.
What would happen if we exposed our hearts today? I'm not talking about to the world, but to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? "Oh no way!" might be the outcry. "No way am I going to let you REALLY know how I'll feel--you'll use it against me!" I have to confess, I still waver with that. The Old Testament gives the advice, "Guard your heart, for within it flows the well springs of life" Proverbs 4:23. How does that compare with the verse in the New Covenant that says GOD will guard our hearts? And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7. So, who's guarding my heart? Me or God? If I expose my heart to my friends and loved ones, what will happen? I'll either gain a closeness, or get bitten. There's an old saying that goes, "You hurt me once, shame on you; you hurt me twice, shame on me". That really holds a lot of truth. Unfortunately, it's the truth not based on God. Can I really let friends and loved ones hurt me time and time again, and not be affected by it? Now, when I say "hurt me", I don't mean physically abusive. That's another issue all together. But what about those who constantly belittle and insult? Sure, we're supposed to not let it bother us--and really? If God were guarding our hearts and minds, WOULD it bother us?
I wish I could be like Paul and his companions. He opened wide his hearts to the Saints of Corinth. He had to know there was the huge potential to get the proverbial slap in the face. The very fact that they wouldn't open their hearts to them, would have demonstrated that.
So, my prayer of late is, "Lord, as you teach me to love and forgive others as you have loved and forgiven me, help me to trust you to guard my heart, and draw near to you, instead of the attitudes of others that I'm learning to love."