A FRANK SPIRIT
The verses in the Scripture reading also show us that Paul was a man with a frank spirit. Today in the church it is difficult to see some brothers who are really frank. I have met some so-called spiritual people who spoke well concerning me to my face, but eventually I discovered that they spoke about me behind my back in a very bad way. This is not frank. In the church life we should not lose our temper, but we have to be frank with one another. We should not be political in the church life but should always say something to a brother’s face. We should not be backbiters (Rom. 1:30; Gal. 5:15). The apostle Paul was a frank person with a frank spirit, and we need to be the same. Sometimes when we would be frank with others, they would think that we are mad with them. In today’s American society people have learned to be political. Even some Christian ministers and Christian teachers have become politicians. They may highly appraise a person to his face and yet speak something behind his back. This is something devilish. In the church life we should not be angry with one another. Anger does not accomplish anything for the Lord, but we have to be frank.
When you see that I am wrong in a certain matter, you have to tell me frankly in love, in a proper spirit. One brother may even come to another brother to ask him if he is wrong in a certain matter. If the other brother replies that he is not wrong and then behind his back speaks evil things concerning him, he is like “a serpent with two tongues.” You should not speak behind someone’s back what you cannot speak to his face. If your spirit does not allow you to say something, you should not say it. If you say something, you should say it truthfully, frankly. Paul was so frank that he even told the Corinthians, “I have become foolish; you yourselves have compelled me. For it is I who should have been commended by you” (2 Cor. 12:11). We have to get rid of all the elements of the cunning serpent within us. In the local expression of the church, of the Body of Christ, we have to be so faithful and frank. If I am wrong, tell me that I am wrong in love. Otherwise, you should not say anything.
A PURE SPIRIT
The apostle Paul was also one who had a pure spirit. If you never say anything, it is easy for others to think that you are pure. But once you begin to speak, either your purity or lack of purity becomes manifested. In 2 Corinthians the apostle Paul opened himself up and spoke many things, yet we are impressed with how pure his spirit is. We may now be clear that we have to be frank, but if we are going to be frank, we have to be pure. A frank spirit has to be matched with a pure spirit. If you are not pure, your frankness will damage me. If I come to tell a brother that he is wrong in certain things, I have to test myself—is my spirit pure? If it is not pure, I should not be frank, and I could not be frank. I have to be frank with a pure motive. To speak to a brother with a pure spirit edifies. Otherwise, if you are frank without purity, you will damage and destroy the saints. In the church life we need such a frank and pure spirit.
A BOLD SPIRIT
Paul also had a bold spirit. In American slang we would say that Paul was not a “chicken.” He was like a tiger. He told the Corinthians, “I have previously said and I say beforehand, when I was present the second time and being absent now, to those who have sinned before and to all the rest, that if I come again, I will not spare” (13:2). This is a real servant of Christ. We need to have a bold spirit, not a timid spirit. This is why Paul told Timothy that “God has not given us a spirit of cowardice” (2 Tim. 1:7).
(Autobiography of a Person in the Spirit, An, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)