I was just flicking through the New Testament today, just skim reading as I went, and while I had to stop and actually search for the following verse, the concept in the verse was all the way through Paul’s letters.
I think the Amplified Bible puts it in it’s clearest context –
2 Corinthians 11:28 “Besides those external things, there is the daily [inescapable] pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel [his] weakness? Who is made to sin, and I am not on fire [with sorrow and concern]?”
Paul had this constant, unescapable concern for both the church and the saints of the church. It’s clear as you read that Paul was not meaning “his church or churches he had planted”. His care and concern for the saints went well and truly beyond personal relationships, it was all the saint’s. Paul describes this care and concern as a burden, almost a hardship, a suffering that he had to carry. But it also seems to be a “willing responsibility” that he both carries and treasures as a steward of the mysteries of God and a servant to the church. It was a mark of his calling and Apostleship.
Regardless of where you find Paul or what circumstances you find him in, he is tirelessly working for the strengthening, development and growth of the church.
There is not an ounce of preference in him, no parochialism, it wasn’t this church but not that church, it was just “the Church”, as in the Church of God, the same with the saints of God.
v29, what a challenge when we live in a world (Christian or not) that is so full of judgement and criticism. A world where correction is often to teach others a lesson how stupid they might have been, but it’s not always for their restoration and/or benefit. When others sin, am I filled with “sorrow and concern” for them..! Not often.
I will confess that I do not have anywhere near that level of concern or that broad a view on the Kingdom of God. I desperately need it.
The world needs as many Christians as possible to have this same level of care and concern, and it must go beyond the church, to the lost.