Corinthians – Belief and Behavior
Regrets. We all have them from time to time because of our behavior. We are distressed for a while when someone wiser and more mature brings our bad behavior to our attention. If true and honest confrontations are handled by loving, compassionate people who know us, love us and want God’s best for us, though it is hard to take at first, because of our love for the messenger, we take it to heart.
When I taught school the kids in my classroom where “my kids”. I knew their stories. I loved them. They knew I loved them. I knew their personalities and how to help them because of this love. Time with them had earned the right to correct their behavior when necessary. When another teacher would harshly reprimand one of “my kids”, I would automatically rush to help resolve the situation because of my love for them. It is hard to take criticism from someone who doesn’t know you and assumes the worst in you. But it is wise to listen to those who know and love you well.
Hearing helpful “should’s” with “how’s” from Paul who loves the people at Corinth, the church gone wild because of conforming to the culture around them, teaches us that caring confrontation that drive us back to God is much needed in our world today. But this is tricky. We must earn the right to confront by caring, loving passionately and deeply and knowing that love is reciprocated. It’s doing life with them. Paul had earned that right with the believers at Corinth. He delivers God’s Truth in a Spirit of deep love.
Paul knew his words would cause distress at first but has no regrets in sharing Truth that saves lives and turns people back to God. “Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.”
The believers at Corinth turned around, refocused and looked up into the eyes of God once more. Paul, who passionately loved the church relates these encouraging words to the church today who willingly uses distress in behaviors to repent, correct and realign their lives to focus back on God…”And now, isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You’re more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible.”
We are MORE in Christ when we listen to correction and allow God to transform our lives…be MORE with less regret.
2 Corinthians 7, The Message
With promises like this to pull us on, dear friends, let’s make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let’s make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God.
More Passionate, More Responsible
2-4 Trust us. We’ve never hurt a soul, never exploited or taken advantage of anyone. Don’t think I’m finding fault with you. I told you earlier that I’m with you all the way, no matter what. I have, in fact, the greatest confidence in you. If only you knew how proud I am of you! I am overwhelmed with joy despite all our troubles.
5-7 When we arrived in Macedonia province, we couldn’t settle down. The fights in the church and the fears in our hearts kept us on pins and needles. We couldn’t relax because we didn’t know how it would turn out. Then the God who lifts up the downcast lifted our heads and our hearts with the arrival of Titus. We were glad just to see him, but the true reassurance came in what he told us about you: how much you cared, how much you grieved, how concerned you were for me. I went from worry to tranquility in no time!
8-9 I know I distressed you greatly with my letter. Although I felt awful at the time, I don’t feel at all bad now that I see how it turned out. The letter upset you, but only for a while. Now I’m glad—not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, no loss.
10 Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.
11-13 And now, isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You’re more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you’ve come out of this with purity of heart. And that is what I was hoping for in the first place when I wrote the letter. My primary concern was not for the one who did the wrong or even the one wronged, but for you—that you would realize and act upon the deep, deep ties between us before God. That’s what happened—and we felt just great.
13-16 And then, when we saw how Titus felt—his exuberance over your response—our joy doubled. It was wonderful to see how revived and refreshed he was by everything you did. If I went out on a limb in telling Titus how great I thought you were, you didn’t cut off that limb. As it turned out, I hadn’t exaggerated one bit. Titus saw for himself that everything I had said about you was true. He can’t quit talking about it, going over again and again the story of your prompt obedience, and the dignity and sensitivity of your hospitality. He was quite overwhelmed by it all! And I couldn’t be more pleased—I’m so confident and proud of you.
AND that’s not all…
–Listen to Paul exuberant words of encouragement to the believers who turned back to God! We cannot encourage each other enough! When right behavior is happening, shout it out!
–All praise and glory goes to God for how He works in our lives to bring us closer and closer to Him Who loves us best.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Help us to listen to Your Holy Spirit who comforts, cares and convicts us to be more. Help us to listen to those who love us and love you as they come alongside us and help us, too.
Transform me. Transform your church. Transform the world.
In Jesus Name, Amen