Let’s read 2nd Corinthians 6:11-13, “O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open” (NKJV). Paul had to address many serious issues that were affecting the assembly at Corinth and here he assures them that he had “spoken openly” to them and that his heart was “wide open.” In other words, Paul spoke with clarity (he didn’t mince words or “beat around the bush”), and he did so with a “large heart.” Everything that Paul had written to them was written out of love, yet how did they respond to him?

We have the answer in verse 12. Their love for the apostle had become “restricted,” which means “limited.” In short, they were “lacking in love,” but it wasn’t because of any lack of love on Paul’s part. Again, his heart was “opened wide” to them, yet their hearts were “being closed” to him.

Paul appeals to them (in verse 13) as their spiritual father to respond to his love by opening up their hearts to him. Paul no doubt thought of the early days when he first came to the city of Corinth with the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is precious to read of their response to the gospel in Acts 18:8, “And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.” Their “hearts were opened” at that time to Paul and the message he brought! In verse 11 we learn that Paul “continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.” I don’t believe we ever read of the apostle staying so long in one place, but he had found such an “open reception” among the Corinthians that he was led to continue his labors there by “teaching the word of God” to them. A true spiritual father isn’t content to just lead a soul to Christ; he will also desire to see his children in the faith “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). A real bond was formed between Paul and the saints at Corinth, deeper than any “natural ties” between an earthly father and his children.

It is sad then to learn (in 1st and 2nd Corinthians) that in the course of time (after Paul left Corinth) Satan made inroads at Corinth in the form of false teaching which eventually led to the Corinthians becoming “cold-hearted” towards the apostle Paul. In essence they had forgotten the tireless labors and privations Paul had endured in order to build them up in their holy faith. In our passage today we see Paul using “tough love” by reproving his spiritual children with the hopes of opening up their hearts once again to him and to the word of God that he was bringing them. (281.7) (DO)