Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ--I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent!2 Corinthians 10:1(NASB)
Just as Moses was the one who was chosen as a prophet of the Lord to lead Israel and give them the Law, so Paul was chosen as apostle to the Gentiles to give deeper insight into the Law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.
Just as Moses gave Israel instruction on how to live as God's chosen people and chastened them when they failed, so Paul gives us directives on our heavenly position in Christ and outlines our roles and responsibilities both at home and wider afield. He highlights the need to be gentle, lowly of heart, and Christ-like... calling us to godly living and gracious conduct. But he also corrects and chastens us which caused some critics to accuse him of being carnal and bossy, while others in the church considered him to be weak and cowardly!
Paul's critics were very vocal and played havoc in many Church fellowships, which often necessitated him replying boldly to his accusers, vindicating his apostleship, and defending the glorious gospel of grace. It is in chapter 10 that we reach an important passage where Paul severely challenges his critics and vehemently defends his position, earning him the reputation for being overbearing.
It became necessary for Paul to appeal to these believers, "by the meekness and gentleness of Christ," to heed his instructions and not to be spiritually tossed about by his critics, who accused him of being fleshly because of his bold profession of faith - or of being spiritually weak in their company!
Almost sarcastically, he describes himself as a meek and mild-tempered man, "I am meek when face to face with you," he says, "but am bold toward you when absent!" Paul did not want to discourage believers to the point of despair, but conversely was not afraid to address false teaching, nor was he ashamed of the gospel of Christ.
Paul was prepared to suffer great loss and endure harsh condemnation from his critics so he could be a living example of godly conduct to the Body of Christ. And so he announced to his readers, "Now I, Paul, myself, urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ. I who am meek when face to face with you, but bold toward you when absent!"
Just as Christ was meek and gentle of heart, so Paul identifies Himself with that Christlike quality by writing, "I am always meek when I am in your company." Paul understood the need to both encourage and correct the saints. He knew the importance of challenging false teachers, exposing false doctrines, contending for the faith, preaching the Word, and being ready to give an answer for the hope we have in Christ.
He knew we should be both gentle of spirit and bold in our witness. "Pattern yourselves after me," was Paul's advice. "Follow my example of godly living - just as I imitate and follow Christ." But just as Moses had harsh criticism from jealous, envious men, so Paul was hounded throughout his ministry by those who sought to destroy him, silence his message, and demolish his Christian witness.
Like Paul, we need to be both gentle as doves and wise as serpents. We need to reflect the meekness and gentleness of Christ while standing firm on the truth of the glorious gospel of grace without fear or favour.
Paul is a great apologist who was prepared to boldly defend the gospel of grace while being sufficiently sensitive to combine encouraging words with corrective instructions. May we reflect the meekness and gentleness of Christ as we share the gospel with others. May we be both gentle as doves while being bold as a lion, as we stand fast in defence of the glorious gospel of God.
Heavenly Father, I pray that, like Paul, I may be meek and gentle in my Christian witness while being ready and willing to lovingly challenge false teachers, fearlessly expose false doctrines, earnestly contend for the faith, preach the Word in season and out of season, and be ready to give an answer for the hope I have in Christ. Thank You for the message and ministry of Paul, and I pray for wisdom and discernment so that I may not be tossed about by any wind of doctrine but able to stand fast on the Word of truth. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.