I realize that from a medical perspective that this title for today’s reflection is not a good thing. The Apostle Paul was not thinking in biological terms when he referred to the way that he had let the Corinthian believers into his thoughts and affections. Paul was listing all of the things that he and his companions had endured at the hands of the people they had come to serve and ends up appealing to them to not close their hearts to him. He tells them in 2 Corinthians 6:11 “We have spoken openly to you, our hearts are wide open.” The KJV translates that last phrase, “…our hearts are enlarged.”
People do all kinds of things that send us reactively into shut-down mode. The Corinthians, as a result of some difficult things that Paul needed to say to them, had closed their hearts to him and were in jeopardy of rejecting the good that God had sent Paul to do in them and for them. We have to keep a close watch on the openness of our hearts toward those who take the Holy Spirit-inspired risk to speak honestly with us. Our self-protection can serve as a great enemy to our spiritual growth and the way that we move forward into God’s plans and purposes. This might be a good time to pause and think about where we have shut down and shut specific people out.
The other side of this is where we find ourselves under attack or rejected by those we have sought to help. We reactively retreat from these people and situations to find small and manageable “safe rooms” where we can shut down and shut others out. This is a common danger in following Jesus into a life of loving and serving others. People don’t always joyfully receive what we offer to them. It happened to Jesus. It happened to Paul. It will happen to us. Their reaction to us is outside of our control. What you can manage is the openness of your heart to them.
Read through this 6th chapter of 2 Corinthians today and think about the way that the actions or inactions of others have impacted the size of your heart. This is a time for enlargement not retraction. Not only do people need space in our hearts to be loved and served, the Holy Spirit needs that room too. Smallness of heart is counterproductive to all that God intends to do in us and most certainly through us. Pray for the grace to allow others back in.
“Togethering” Today: Join us for a collective time of prayer and seeking from 12:00 to 1:00pm in the Sanctuary.
“Togethering” Tomorrow: Join together Friday night in the Fellowship Hall at 6:00pm for a light pot-luck dinner to break our fast and then a time of worship and ministry following afterward.