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For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience, that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you. [1]

2 Corinthians 1:12

There is a certain kind of honor that is worth having. False pride, in doing it “my way” is useless. Getting through tough times because of our faith allows us to look in the mirror, face others, and be confident that “God’s way” has been done.

That is the way to do it. That is authentic. Doing it “His way” allows us to hold our heads high. Lesson learned.

Paul indicates things had gotten bad. Life is not always “what we want it to be”. There are trials. When the worst is over, I want to be able “to be pleased to report”.

Our English word conscience comes from two Latin words: com, meaning “with,” and scire, meaning “to know.” Conscience is that inner faculty that “knows with” our spirit and approves when we do right but accuses when we do wrong. Conscience is not the Law of God, but it bears witness to that Law. It is the window that lets in the light; and if the window gets dirty because we disobey, then the light becomes dimmer and dimmer.

Paul used the word conscience twenty-three times in his letters and spoken ministry as given in Acts. “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offense toward God, and toward men” (Acts 24:16). When a person has a good conscience, he has integrity, not duplicity; and he can be trusted.

Why were the Corinthians accusing Paul of deception and carelessness? Because he had been forced to change his plans. He had originally promised to spend the winter in Corinth “if the Lord permit”. Paul wanted to gather the offerings that the Corinthians collected for the poor Jewish believers and give the church the privilege of sending him and his associates on their way to Jerusalem.

Much to Paul’s regret and embarrassment, he had to change those plans. I sympathize with him, for in my own experience I have sometimes had to change plans and even cancel meetings—and without benefit of apostolic authority! “Plans get you into things,” said Will Rogers, “but you have to work your way out.” Paul now planned to make two visits to Corinth, one on his way into Macedonia, and the other on his way from Macedonia. He would then add the Corinthian collection to that of the Macedonian churches and go on his way to Jerusalem.

Alas, even Plan B had to be scrapped. Why? Because his own loving heart could not endure another “painful visit” (2 Cor. 1:23; 2:1–3). Paul had informed the church about his change in plans, but even this did not silence the opposition. They accused him of following “fleshly wisdom”, of being careless with the will of God, and of making plans just to please himself. They were saying, “If Paul says or writes one thing, he really means another! His yes is no, and his no is yes.”

Misunderstandings among God’s people are often very difficult to untangle, because one misunderstanding often leads to another. Once we start to question the integrity of others or distrust their words, the door is opened to all kinds of problems. But, no matter what his accusers might say, Paul stood firm because he had a clear conscience. What he wrote, what he said, and what he lived were all in agreement. And, after all, he had added to his original plan “if the Lord permit”.[2]

God’s goal for us: We need to show understanding, give the benefit of the doubt and not be so critical of others. Jesus challenges us to love. That is it. That is what Jesus expects.

Consider this from Jesus!

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Master [Lord], how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. [3]

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Co 1:12). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, pp. 632–633). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 18:21–22). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.