It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and He has identified us as His own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first instalment that guarantees everything He has promised us. Now I call upon God as my witness that I am telling the truth. The reason I didn’t return to Corinth was to spare you from a severe rebuke. But that does not mean we want to dominate you by telling you how to put your faith into practice. We want to work together with you so you will be full of joy, for it is by your own faith that you stand firm. So I decided that I would not bring you grief with another painful visit. For if I cause you grief, who will make me glad? Certainly not someone I have grieved. That is why I wrote to you as I did, so that when I do come, I won’t be grieved by the very ones who ought to give me the greatest joy. Surely you all know that my joy comes from your being joyful. I wrote that letter in great anguish, with a troubled heart and many tears. I didn’t want to grieve you, but I wanted to let you know how much love I have for you.2 Corinthians 1:21-2:4
This is another of those sections where we have to ignore the chapter division and put two segments together across chapter boundaries. (Robert Estienne’ s horse stumbled at this point. See Bible Gem 21)
Paul is continuing on the same themes as before. Notice how the promise element is still present. He made promises which they think he broke. He has reminded them that God’s promises are always Yes in Christ. Now he tells them, His Holy Spirit living within us is the guarantee of everything He has promised. By that same God, and Son and Holy Spirit, Paul calls on His witness to the fact that Paul is not lying. Then he explains the reasons and the context over the following verses which are separated by the chapter boundaries. I guarantee few of you have ever looked at these verses carefully and realised it is all connected. Likely your reading has separated the elements and not naturally put them together.
Paul wanted to spare them further rebuke and so didn’t come for yet another visit. One painful visit was enough. He adds in the beginning of chapter two “So I decided that I would not bring you grief with another painful visit.” One was enough! He adds, “That is why I wrote to you as I did . . . I wrote that letter in great anguish with troubled heart and many tears.” Thus the name – the letter of tears.
Do you catch Paul’s heart for the Corinthians from these words above? “We don’t want to dominate you . . we want to work with you so you will be full of joy. I wanted you to know how much love I have for you.” Well thanks, but no thanks Paul. With “friends” and “supporters” like you, who needs enemies? Your painful visit on top of the tearful letter was more than we can stand. We can’t take anymore of your “love”.
Can you imagine the feelings behind it all. But in all truth Paul IS showing love to them. TOUGH LOVE. Someone who really loves you will tell you the truth even though it hurts. Oh we might not thank them at the time and they take the risk of losing our love and friendship in saying what they have to say. But it REALLY is motivated by a heart of love. It takes a level of maturity to realise it. And it takes a greater level of love on their part for them to tell us what we need to hear.
This all connects back to the issue we looked at in 1 Corinthians 5. Yes Paul was not willing to let go of this issue until it was resolved FOR THEIR SAKE.
Do you have someone in your life who loves you strong enough to be willing to rebuke you and tell you what you need to hear? Pray God will give you people like that?Ian Vail
Are you the kind of friend to love someone that much to do that for them?Ian Vail
A friend will love me like I am. A mentor loves me too much to leave me like I am.Brett Jones
I Would Rather Have You Hate Me For Telling You The Truth Than For You To Love Me For Telling You Lies.Robb Thompson
Walking in the will of God is not about easy … it’s about loving Jesus enough to live life His way, not my way.Wendy Treat