Paul invested a lot of time and energy into the church people of Corinth:
He first visited there on his 2nd missionary (discipleship) journey (Acts 18:1-18) and spent 18 months there. After leaving, he heard of the immorality and wrote a letter (lost) to confront their sin (1 Cor. 5:9) While ministering in Ephesus, heard more reports about divisions (1 Cor. 1:11) and they wrote him a letter (1 Cor. 7:1) asking for clarifications on certain issues. Paul responded by writing what we call 1 Corinthians (which we just read).
Disturbing news reached Paul about false prophets and an assault on his character/credibility.
Paul left the ministry at Ephesus and went immediately to Corinth. This was his “painful visit” (2 Cor. 2:1) – because they didn’t stand up for Paul. So Paul returned to Ephesus discouraged and instead of making another visit (2 Cor. 1:23) he wrote a “severe” letter (2 Cor. 2:4) and sent it with Titus (2 Cor. 7:5-16). Paul later was encouraged to hear back from Titus that most had taken his “severe” letter well and had repented (7:7). But sin always likes to creep in and so Paul wrote what we call 2 Corinthians (from Macedonia) to: Defend his apostleship (1-7), Exhort them to continue to collect for poor at Jerusalem (8-9) and Confront false apostles (10-13)
This is an intensely personal letter written in the heat of a battle against those attacking his character and credibility! No letter of Paul’s is more personal, bares more of his soul or professes more continuing love to the Corinthians (despite their unfaithful feelings toward him) than this one.
I am soooo thankful for the first part of this chapter (not that I’m not thankful for the whole thing….geeeesh). Over and over again I come back to this section when the storms of life come my way. God is the God of “compassion” and literally it means “coming alongside.” Now how cool is that?!~ It is amazing to think that the God of all coming alongside, comes alongside me when I’m going thru stuff. I don’t know about you but there is nothing I want more than to not go thru stuff alone! And that IS the promise! And for a purpose too – so that I can come alongside others when they are going thru stuff and offer them God’s comfort! Combine this passage with Psalm 46:1 and 1 Peter 5:7 and you’ve got my “Trifecta for Peace!” Wow – I should write that one down.
Paul had been thru a lot, “far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.” It caused him to rely on God, for that circumstance and for his ultimate future. We need to do the same.
Then Paul defends his actions, his character and his heart. Paul was being accused of acting wrong, of being insincere, and so he calls his first witness – his conscience. It’s the right & wrong warning system of the soul and Paul says he acted appropriately. He was also being accused of being fickle and not keeping his word. Paul’s “plan A” was to visit them after Macedonia. God changed his plans and so they thought Paul’s word was now untrustworthy. Paul assures them it wasn’t for selfish interests or because he didn’t care for them that he was re-routed on a “plan B.” Finally, Paul gives his reason for not coming, “it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth.” They were in sin and Paul could have come and confronted them but wanted to give them time to repent!
*If you had a personal tragedy today, to whom would you turn for comfort? Would anyone turn to you? We all need to go to God, but we also need someone here, on this earth, that we can go to. Who’s your “go to” person?
*Maybe you’re facing something right now and feel like you’re gonna’ lose it. That’s how Paul felt too. Why not ask God right now to come alongside and help – He will!
*How is you “walk”? Is the way you are living attractive to others? Or does it cause others to view you as a hypocrite? Do you keep your word? And how’s your attitude? You’ve heard it said that actions speak louder than words. Well I say to you, then attitudes speak louder still!