How do the people in churches improve relationships? Can we take straight forward confrontation? For most of us it depends on who and how they would confront us. These people were led to Christ by Paul and by most he was highly respected. He could do this because relationships make up the basis for an improvement factor.
1. The Improvement Factor . . Approached Courageously. 10:1-3
A. Improvement Approached . . Shamelessly. 10:1-2
1 Now I, Paul, make a personal appeal to you by the gentleness and graciousness of Christ—I who am humble among you in person, but bold toward you when absent. 2 I beg you that when I am present I will
not need to be bold with the confidence by which I plan to challenge certain people who think we are walking in a fleshly way.
B. Improvement Approached . . Spiritually. 10:3
3 For although we are walking in the flesh, we do not wage war in a fleshly way,
Paul, in a shameless manner, approached the improvement of the Christians lifestyle. He planned to confront those who were not walking as Christ would have them walk. It seems no matter how a minister tries some professing Christians do not walk as Christ would have them walk. Paul expressed concern that some of the spiritual qualities of the Christian life were not obviously displayed. It appears some walked in the flesh and accused Paul of walking that way.
2. The Improvement Factor . . Approved By The Lord. 10:15-18
A. Improvement Approved By The Lord’s . . Continuation Of The Work. 10:15-16a
15 We are not bragging beyond measure about other people's labors. But we have the hope that as your faith increases, our area of ministry will be greatly enlarged, 16 so that we may preach the gospel to the
regions beyond you, . . .”
B. Improvement Approved By The Lord’s . . Commendation Of The Work. 10:16b-18
“. . . not boasting about what has already been done in someone else's area of ministry.
17 So the one who boasts must boast in the Lord. 18 For it is not the one commending himself who is approved, but the one the Lord commends. HCSB
Paul desired improvement in these people that would result in his being able to share with more people in other cities. This would represent a continuation of his work for the Lord and these people could share in it. My mom used to say, “self praise stinks.” Paul would agree but commended these people and his personal ministry among them because it was the Lord who was commending his work. Some ministers today, like Paul, cause growth everywhere they go. There is a story about a minister who wanted to leave a particular place of service because there were no prospects. No one told the new minister that and he led several to the Lord.
3. The Improvement Factor . . Addressing Others Forthrightly. 12:14-18
A. Improvement Addressing Others Forthrightly In . . Love. 12:14-15
14 Look! I am ready to come to you this third time. I will not burden you, for I am not seeking what is yours, but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.
15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for you. If I love you more, am I to be loved less?
B. Improvement Addressing Others Forthrightly In . . Language. 12:16-18
16 Now granted, I have not burdened you; yet sly as I am, I took you in by deceit! 17 Did I take advantage of you by anyone I sent you? 18 I urged Titus to come, and I sent the brother with him. Did Titus
take advantage of you? Didn't we walk in the same spirit and in the same footsteps?
Do you like people who you never have to wonder about where they stand on the issues? Then you would like Paul. Paul spoke forthrightly but he did it with an attitude of love. Sometimes all of us need to be spoken to in a forthright manner. I think it is most helpful if we know the person speaking to us; speaks in love. The language Paul used tells us he did speak forthrightly to some. One commentator said, some doubters said Paul must have been sneaky and made money from them somehow. But Paul again explained that everything he did for the believers was for their edification, not to enrich himself. It is sad he had to do that.
4. The Improvement Factor Seeking To . . Advance The Kingdom. 12:19-21
A. Improvement Seeking To Advance By . . Clarifying Their Knowledge Of Paul. 12:19-20
19 You have thought all along that we were defending ourselves to you. No, in the sight of God we are speaking in Christ, and everything, dear friends, is for building you up. 20 For I fear that perhaps when
I come I will not find you to be what I want, and I may not be found by you to be what you want; there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorder.
B. Improvement Seeking To Advance By . . Correcting The Lifestyle of Some. 12:21
21 I fear that when I come my God will again humiliate me in your presence, and I will grieve for many who sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, sexual immorality, and promiscuity they
Paul desired to advance the kingdom. He clarified his desires to the people while having an underlying concern he might find such as, “quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorder.” If he found that; he planned to correct it in whatever manner necessary. Sin needs to be addressed with the desire for improvement. He wanted his ministry to present Relationships: The Improvement Factor . Amen? Amen!