2 Corinthians 10:11-18
Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent…
I. THE FALSE AND TRUE METHOD OF ESTIMATING THE CHARACTER OF OTHERS (ver. 13).
1. To judge by public report is a wrong method. There was an impression in Corinth that not only was Paul's "bodily presence" contemptible, but that his letters displayed a heroism of which the writer was destitute, and hence he was judged to be a boaster and charlatan. How common it is for people to judge by general report! But a miserably false standard of judgment is this. I have often received impressions concerning a person I have never seen, which a subsequent personal acquaintance has completely dispelled.
2. To judge by personal knowledge is the true method. "Wait, until I come, and you will find that I am true to the character of my letters." A man's letters, even when rightly interpreted, will not give a complete idea of the author. The author is greater than his book, and one hour with him will give a better idea of him than all the productions of his pen.
II. THE FALSE AND TRUE METHOD OF ESTIMATING OUR OWN CHARACTERS.
1. The false method is comparing our own character with the character of others (ver. 19).
(1) This is the general tendency of mankind. When we are accused we are prone to say we are not worse than so-and-so. A false standard this, because —
(a) The mass of mankind are corrupt.
(b) The best of men are more or less imperfect.
(c) There is only one perfect character — Jesus Christ.
(2) In these words Paul indicates —
(a) That it is a terrible thing thus to judge ourselves. "We dare not (are not bold enough) make ourselves of the number." It is a terrible thing, for it leads to fearful issues.
(b) An unwise thing.
2. The true method is judging ourselves by the will of God (ver. 13). Though the apostle by the expression "rule which God hath distributed" primarily refers to the Divine limits or his apostolic work, as will appear again, the "rule" applies also to his personal character. God's will is the standard or canon by which all characters are to be determined. Conclusion: "Search me, O God, and know my heart," etc.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present.