“Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia. And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go. For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit. But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.” (1 Corinthians 16:5–8, KJV)
Early on in my marriage, I made some mistakes. I did not even know what I was doing. Granted, neither my wife or I were believers at that time. However, even as believers, this type of mistake can happen. So what did I do? Well, it is like this. When I was in the military, she really understood this particular problem. After all, we did not have cellphones then and it was difficult to communicate with her from the base. Yet, when I went to work after leaving the service, there was no excuse.
You see, on occasion, I would be delayed at work and unable to get home at a reasonable time. Sometimes, it was because of work commitments, since I was a manufacturing department manager. Yet, on other occasions it was because one of the department vendors would invite me to meet at a local pub. The big problem was in not letting my wife know that I would be late getting home. Like I said, at the time, I did not think anything about this. Yet, my oversight did create great tension in our marriage.
As I look back at this oversight, I realize something. The failure to make a simple phone call to let my wife know why I was delayed may have been read in a variety of ways. One was that of worry. She did not know if something happened to me. Yet, the major problem was that it showed a lack of concern for her. Moreover, a lack of concern for someone can usually be understood as a lack of love. Now, I can say this was not the case for me. I always loved her, but I operated in a very self-centered way.
In these verses, Paul presented his travel itinerary to the church in Corinth. At the time, he was ministering in Ephesus and on the way to Corinth, he would pass through Macedonia. So, he explained that there would be a delay in his coming to see them, primarily due to his ministry in Ephesus that would run until the Feast of Pentecost.
So, Paul explained the reason for his delay. Yet, he wanted to stress one more thing to the church. He wrote, “For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you.” I like the way the English Standard Version translated this sentence, ““For I do not want to see you now just in passing. I hope to spend some time with you” (1 Corinthians 16:7, ESV). Paul wanted them to know that he desired to spend some time with them. He did not want to stop in take their collection and run off without enjoying their fellowship and ministering to them.
There is one thing that expresses our care for people more than we realize. It is time. We often rush around in the hustle and bustle of life, and miss time with people. Sometimes, it cannot be avoided. Circumstances can rob us from our fellowship time. Yet, most likely the real problem is not circumstances but priorities. It seems that we all have ample wasted time in our lives. We truly must endeavor to communicate our desire to be with people and then make the effort to do so. The time we commit to others will always be seen as an expression of our care and concern for them. It is the deepest expression of our love for others.