Paul was concerned for the Corinthians that they were following and listening to some teachers and preachers who had showed up and were saying they were better than and more than the apostles. He didn’t have a problem with people teaching and preaching the truth but these teachers were slandering him and allowing sin to flourish. But some in the church preferred the untrustworthy slickness of these men to the truth, humility and true apostleship of Paul.
Paul was tired of defending himself to the Corinthians. In fact he had refused to do so. He loved the church there as if they were his own children and he was jealous for them with a godly jealousy. He did was right for them. He performed miracles among for them. He taught. He spoke God’s truth. He rebuked and disciplined. But he refused to employ fancy talk and gimmicks and he refused to charge the church money for his services. Yet, probably because of what these false-apostles were saying the church saw his not collecting money from them as some sort of con. The real con-men had made them think the person asking nothing from them was duping them! In verses15-16 Paul describes his love for the Corinthians.
“I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 16 But granting that I myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by deceit.”
Paul told them he would not change his ways for them. He would not charge them, he would not start using elaborate or impressive language, and he would not speak anything other than the truth of Christ. Verse 19 reads,
“Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ, and all for your upbuilding, beloved.”
Read verse 15 again. “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less?” I have loved people like that. I do love people like that. I would do anything, including die for their salvation. I know how it feels to want someone to grasp the truth and love of Christ so much that it hurts. I am sure you do too. Think of how you feel for those people.
Now consider this; is there someone who feels like that about you? Are they mentoring, teaching, and guiding you? Are you giving them the respect they deserve as your spiritual parent? Or do you look elsewhere for teaching and throw it in their face when you choose some other advisor? Do you honor this other advisor over them? If your teacher is teaching The Truth, 100% of the truth, 100% of the time then we are all in it together. But if your teacher is leaving things out or adding other things, beware. Does it line up with the Bible? Does it line up with the Spirit? He has given you discernment, does it sit right in your spirit?
Be careful about who you follow. Make sure they are following Christ. If you follow someone who is not following Christ then you are following the enemy. Be careful and make sure you are following Christ, because the people following you will go down the same path you do and you will be commended or condemned for where you lead others.