Episode #151. Today we’ll read 2 Corinthians chapter 2 together. Paul encourages forgiveness, explains more of his postponement to visit Corinth, and describes his life and death ministry.
Joy: You’re listening to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Episode #151. Today we’ll read 2nd Corinthians chapter 2 together: Paul encourages forgiveness, explains more of his postponement to visit Corinth, and describes his life and death ministry.
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast. I’m your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me as we simply read God’s word together. Some things require discipline and sometimes that’s just not easy to muster by yourself, no matter how badly you want to do it or how much you know you should. It’s just easier to do it with a friend. So refill your coffee or tea, get comfortable in your favorite chair and follow along as I read aloud. I’m so glad you’re here!
I gotta say, I’m a little sad. Maybe it’s disappointment. Heck, there might be a tad of irritation too. Let me explain.
Almost a year and a half ago, the idea to go to Europe with Mitch’s brother and my sister-in-law, was born. You know how it starts…”Hey, we ought to …whatever.” They were so excited, and so were we! And then it grew. Our two grown daughters wanted to come. Our nephews and their wives wanted to come. Then, our good friends, Barry and Sherri, who had never been to Europe decided to join us in London but first tack on several days in Normandy, France.
And so it went. Mitch started writing and emailing funny newsletters to educate and entertain. Plane reservations were made, city passes were purchased and we found a nice hotel that would accommodate all of us.
God is Good…and Never Surprised
Then Covid hit.
I was the most supercilious of all. “Not to worry! There’s no way this thing will still be a problem in October!” A few months later I was not so confident. Especially when the UK started requiring a 14-day quarantine in the hotel. Hmmm…quarantine for two weeks then vacation for one. Probably not gonna happen. So we set the deadline of August 31st as the cutoff date for going forward or pulling the plug.
The plug is now officially pulled and we’re in the process of changing the reservations to April, 2021. But God is good, all the time. As with most things in life, we’ll likely look back and be able to say the postponement ended up being a good thing.
Covid-19 is not a surprise to God. And He always goes before those who belong to His Son and makes a way. Even when we can’t see it. We haven’t forgotten the verse we just read in the 8th chapter of Romans, verse 28, have we? “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”
Do we act like we know that? I hope so. I hope that – whether in suffering or disappointment – our witness is that we truly know that, in the depths of our souls. Let me know your thoughts at Lifting Her Voice.com.
2 Corinthians Chapter 2
In fact, I made up my mind about this: I would not come to you on another painful visit. For if I cause you pain, then who will cheer me other than the one being hurt by me? I wrote this very thing so that when I came I wouldn’t have pain from those who ought to give me joy, because I am confident about all of you that my joy will also be yours. For I wrote to you with many tears out of an extremely troubled and anguished heart — not to cause you pain, but that you should know the abundant love I have for you.
A Sinner Forgiven
If anyone has caused pain, he has caused pain not so much to me but to some degree — not to exaggerate — to all of you. This punishment by the majority is sufficient for that person. As a result, you should instead forgive and comfort him. Otherwise, he may be overwhelmed by excessive grief. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. I wrote for this purpose: to test your character to see if you are obedient in everything. Anyone you forgive, I do too. For what I have forgiven — if I have forgiven anything — it is for your benefit in the presence of Christ, so that we may not be taken advantage of by Satan. For we are not ignorant of his schemes.
A Trip to Macedonia
When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though the Lord opened a door for me, I had no rest in my spirit because I did not find my brother Titus. Instead, I said good-bye to them and left for Macedonia.
A Ministry of Life or Death
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in Christ’s triumphal procession and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of him in every place. For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To some we are an aroma of death leading to death, but to others, an aroma of life leading to life. Who is adequate for these things? For we do not market the word of God for profit like so many. On the contrary, we speak with sincerity in Christ, as from God and before God.
You can just feel Paul’s grief come off the page, can’t you? It reminds me so much of times as a parent and an employer when discipline is needed to be issued and the responsibility for that fell squarely on my lap. I bet you have myriad stories in that vein too. It’s hard. It can be heartbreaking. But you know it needs to be done for the good of a relationship, for increased maturity, and sometimes – as in Paul’s case – for godliness.
It is said among many scholars that there was likely a lost letter to the Corinthians from Paul. And apparently, Paul didn’t hold anything back in that letter. The Corinthian church needed to be taken to the woodshed and Paul took them. Maybe I should say that God took them and used Paul. It may very well be the reason Paul postponed his visit to Corinth. He likely knew in his heart that the visit would not have ended well. And that’s why he wrote the letter.
Let’s face it, even though Paul didn’t have a word processor, he could still write and re-write a letter until it had the perfect balance of chewing out and expressions of love. When you’re face to face with someone you must admonish, words can be like toothpaste: they don’t go back in the tube. A visit may have damaged the relationship with the Corinthian Christians beyond repair. I think Paul was wise.
Extend Christ’s Love
In the next section, it is widely believed that Paul was talking about the same guy from his first letter. You know, the one who had a sinful relationship with his step-mom? The one Paul advised be given over to Satan? Well, apparently the church did discipline him and Paul is now saying it’s time to love him. Bring him back into the fold and extend Christ’s love to him so he won’t get too discouraged.
Have you ever felt like that? Like, you’re so low you don’t even think it’s useful to try? We don’t ever want our brothers and sisters in Christ to feel like that, no matter how naughty they’ve been. It’s at those times, when godly shame is doing its proper work, that the love of Christ is so powerful. I hope we all remember both sides of that coin. Let’s pray.
Oh, Father, life can be hard. I mean, I don’t want to sound whiny, but whether a person is on the receiving end of the whip, or dolling out the discipline, it’s hard. Lord, we need Your wisdom; we need Your love. Life gets very messy when we allow ego and pride, rebelliousness, and hate, to cloud our vision of You. Your word says that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no man or woman comes to You except thru Him. Please, Lord, do not let this message be lost. Help us to be relationally wise like Paul was because it is through those manicured relationships that we can be used to draw people to Christ. Amen.
Thank you for joining me here today. I pray God will grow in you what has been planted and watered here. In this time of unprecedented struggle worldwide, we can look to God for guidance and comfort. Be sensitive to those in your circle of influence who need a word of encouragement and invite them to join us. If you like this show, it would be great if you give it a five-star review. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. See you right here tomorrow. Be well!
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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