Sincerity (2 Corinthians 2:17)
As in 2 Corinthians 1:12, Paul again addresses lingering questions about his delay in visiting Corinth. The Corinthians seem offended because he did not initially accept financial support from the church in Corinth. His response is that supporting himself was a matter of sincerity. Could people trust that he really believed what he was preaching, or was he doing it just to make money like the “peddlers of God’s word” (2 Cor. 2:17) who could be found in any Roman city? It appears he did not want to be lumped together with the philosophers and rhetoricians of his day who charged hefty fees for their speeches. Instead he and his co-workers were “persons of sincerity.” They were quite clearly not going from place to place preaching the gospel in order to get rich, but they understood themselves as individuals who were sent by God and answered to God.
This reminds us that motivation is not just a private matter, especially when it comes to money. The way we handle money shines like a laser pointer on the question of our sincerity as Christians. People want to see whether we handle money in accordance with our high principles or ditch our principles when there’s money to be made. Are we lax with our expense accounts? Do we hide income under the table? Do we engage in dubious tax shelters? Do we push for raises, commissions, and bonuses at the expense of others? Do we take financial advantage of people in difficult circumstances? Do we twist contracts to gain a disproportionate financial gain? The question is not only whether we can justify ourselves, but also whether those around us can recognize that our actions are consistent with Christian beliefs. If not, we bring dishonor to ourselves and to the name of Christ.
See Murray J. Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 253–54.