Monday in the Twenty-Seventh Week of Ordinary Time

2 Corinthians 1:23-2:11

Paul’s Abundant Love for Them

It’s been a difficult road for Paul.  Coming to this place with this church was hard-won.  He had planted, watered, and cultivated, only to see weeds.  And though Paul suggests here that he was confident of the Corinthians’ return to him and the apostolic teaching, he certainly struggled mightily to rescue them.  But persistence and God’s grace won him the victory, and as Christians, we should remember that formula (Luke 18:1-8).

Paul explains to them that he delayed to see them only because he did not want to make them another painful visit.  Instead, he wrote to them a sorrowful letter in which he expressed his innermost grief and anxiety over their condition.  But what was the purpose of this letter (which the Lord saw fit that we should never see)?  To make them pity the Apostle?  To make them feel guilty (though they certainly should have felt so)?  No, but to make them know the abundant love he had for them. 

I believe that there might be some instruction here concerning confrontation.  Face to face encounter might not always be the best method, especially when a previous face to face encounter … well, just blew up in your face.  Granted, this church owed Paul obedience as an Apostle, which Paul makes clear in verse nine.  But rather than commanding them or lording over them, he deals wisely and gently with them.  He shows them his heart, and not in such a way as to condemn or elicit sympathy, but to show his great love for them.  And he did this by writing them a letter, a lost art in our day.  Love letters can disarm and open doors to personal encounter.

Beyond this, Paul addresses the matter of discipline which the church meted out to one of her members.  We are not sure but the person in question may very well have been the person who opposed Paul.  But Paul says that the harm was not done to him but to the church; after all, the bitter struggle was within the church.  But Paul held no grudges.  And he begged the church to forgive, comfort, and reaffirm their love for the offender, lest he “be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.”  And why is it so important to forgive, especially in the church?  Well, first because we have been forgiven so much ourselves (Matthew 18:23-35).  But moreover, because we do not wish to be “outwitted by Satan.”  Satan knows how to use our unforgiving hearts against ourselves and against one another.  Before long such a church would devour herself—and many have.  And so Paul says, “We are not ignorant of his designs,” and in this case, ignorance kills.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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