“For many walk of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.”
“and now tell you even weeping”
Here is a man who could both take a strong stand and still exercise compassion. That is a difficult balance to maintain. Either we are rigid and immovable or weak and flexible. A mature person holds both conviction and flexibility in tension. Paul was inflexible with foundational truth. Yet he was compassionate with people—”even weeping.”
“He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.” (Ps. 126:6)
“Serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials . . .” (Ac 20:19)
“Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.” (Ac 20:31)
Paul wept over those who did not know Christ as Savior. Weeping is no longer in vogue. We live in a day of stingy compassion. We do not have any passion because we do not have any compassion. We develop hardness to the lost and the reality of hell. Therefore, we do little, if anything, to introduce people to Jesus.
Paul wrote a stinging letter to the carnal Corinthians, yet he showed compassion to them in 2 Corinthians 2:4:
“For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the abundant love which I have so abundantly for you.”
Paul even wept over apostates in our passage. All this adds up to Paul’s love for people. Oh, we love our mother, father, and children. We love our husband or wife. Even that is difficult at times. To love someone outside our personal sphere is another thing. That “thing” is maturity.
“that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ”
The phrase “the enemies of the cross of Christ” repulses those who love the Lord Jesus. The “enemy” opposes the cross. The cross is God’s work. It stands in contradiction to human merit. People averse to God’s glory hate the cross:
“For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Rom. 5:10)
Before we came to know Christ, we were the “enemies” of God:
“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.” (Col 1:21)
Our works, even good works, alienate us from God if done in the flesh:
“Because the carnal mind (the unbeliever) is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God [the Bible], nor indeed can be [does not have the capacity].” (Rom. 8:7)
Not only are those without Christ enemies of God, but they are enemies of the cross:
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Co. 1:18)
The cross is offensive to those who have not embraced its message:
“And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased.” (Gal. 5:11)
Enemies of the cross allege they go to heaven without the cross. They belittle the work of Christ on the cross. They believe God is impressed by works.
We must hold truth and compassion in tension.
Do you balance principle and passion? Do you engage both passion and compassion at the same time? Is there balance in your life? Paul loved people so much he shed tears for them. No wonder he became the greatest missionary of his time. Do you love people beyond your immediate friends and family? The standard of this verse is transcending love.