11 O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. 12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. 13 Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.
Paul now explained that his apostolic ministry and conduct was forthright. He had just laid bare his life, both the good and bad, in the previous verses.
Paul made a strong appeal to the Corinthian church to respond to the gospel team’s ministry. He called them by the name of their city.
We have spoken openly [candidly] to you, our heart is wide open [enlarged].
Paul’s team spoke openly and honestly to the Corinthian church. They held nothing back from the church. However, there were some in the church trying to turn the congregation against them. Paul had been open with how he felt toward the church. He had nothing to conceal. He was wide open to this cantankerous crowd of Christians. They were the most onerous church in the New Testament.
You are not restricted by us,
“Restricted” means to make narrow. The team did not reject a relationship with the church. They were wide open to fellowship with them.
but you are restricted by your own affections.
The Corinthian church was not open to Paul because of their lack of affection toward the team. The word “affections” carries the idea of the seat of emotions. Literally, it means bowels. We could translate it “heart.”
Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.
Paul spoke to the Corinthians as a parent. He had that privilege because he founded the church. He asked the church to be open to the team’s ministry. Mutual reciprocity should be the normal Christian life. Reciprocation is part of fellowship with others.
Unhindered love is important in ministry.
Paul and his team were people of candor. Those to whom he ministered were not open to him. This is often true in ministry today. To get people to reciprocate in kind is a delicate issue. Love longs for a response. Those with true love make room for others in their hearts. This would only be a fair exchange of love.
Success in ministry rests on the confidence and love of those who follow. When a minister is confident that those who follow him back his ministry, much can happen for the kingdom. Unrequited love is difficult to take. This is especially true of those to whom we have ministered extensively. Fraternal unity is crucial to ministry.
It is simple to love where there is a response or reciprocation. The Corinthians did not love Paul, yet he was their spiritual father; he founded the church. They fought, feuded, carped, and harped. They broke his heart. Paul’s love was a one-way street.
This does not mean that a minister should pull punches with the truth (2 Co 13:8).