“They” is a dangerous word. One would think that is a silly statement, but over the years, this truth is proven again and again. As we embark on our journey in this series in 2 Corinthians, let us be warned of the dangers of they. This warning carries over into any book of the Bible we read. Why? It is because “they” quite often becomes “we.”
They can; I cannot.
One of the dangers of “they” is looking at what others did and thinking we cannot do the same. The thought comes that “we” are lesser than “they.” The Bible is written by real people, to real people, with real struggles, and for real reasons. The Bible is not a book of fairy tales, but of history and theology merged into a color portrait to help us grow. “They” were just like us. “We” are just like them. What is also the same is a loving God striving with them just as He does with us.
They should not; I would not.
The other danger of “they,” is thinking “we” would not do what “they” did. During my Bible reading on sabbatical a few years ago, this truth leaped out at me. We often see ourselves as the heroes in the Bible, but not as the wavering crowds. We see ourselves as the disciples (minus the “o ye of little faith”) and not as the Pharisees. Do not look down at what “they” did, because “we” do the same things.
They were growing.
The church of Corinth is a church of growth, not problems. This goes against what we often hear for preachers, but growing in Christ is a messy task. Seeing our sin and gaining victory over it often lacks the smoothness of a well written movie. They were called out on their sin, made changes, and also harbored some bitterness. They, however, grew and changed. They were scared or exhausted to restore one they removed in sin, and were quick to look down on Paul. Despite all this, they were growing.
We struggle too.
We do the same things they did. When someone calls us out on our sin, we resent them, even when we changed for the better. We often harbor bitterness, resentment, and emotional exhaustion when it comes to restoring someone who sinned. Simply put, we want to save face instead of embracing grace. Rather than viewing the Corinthians as problem people, embrace the freedom of grace to say, “We struggle with that too.”
“They” is a very dangerous word indeed, for it excuses of us working on the same things we struggle with too. When “they” becomes “we,” it frees us to live out this truth: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).