Today is day 85 in our journey through the Bible in 90 days.
2 Corinthians is kind of the nicer, older brother to 1 Corinthians. Whereas 1 Corinthians is abrasive and harsh at times (although necessary and truthful), 2 Corinthians is loving and much easier to hang out with.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul called out some sexual sin that was being tolerated within the church. He told them that someone who claims to be a Christians, but goes on in sin (any sin – not just sexual sin) is not to be tolerated. He even added “don’t even eat with such a one.” (1 Corinthians 5:11). 2 Corinthians seems to point out that the rebuke had its intended result. Paul says…
“Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.” – 2 Corinthians 2:5-8
The purpose of the harsh rebuke and lack of fellowship was to bring sorrow, brokenness, humility, and restoration. Judging by Paul’s words here, that’s exactly what happened.
That is the difference (or at least should be) between the world’s rebuke and a Christian’s rebuke. The world rebukes in order to slander, destroy, and bring pain. The Christian rebukes to bring humility and restoration. Whenever delivering a hard truth to someone, make sure that that is always your goal – not revenge.
Paul also wrote for a few other reasons. He gave a lot of practical and doctrinal instruction; he gave instructions on collecting a financial gift for the poor Christians in Jerusalem; he also backed up his calling as an apostle after some others had come in and slandered his reputation.
There are FAR too many great spiritual truths to highlight here, but one that stood out to me is the passage on financial giving. It’s a topic that is often pushed to 1 of 2 extremes in churches today…
Some churches talk way too much about it, constantly pressuring people to give, setting up thermometers to measure the amount given, and promising “a 10-fold blessing” for “sowing their seed.” Some of that language is used within 2 Corinthians, but many churches take it way too far.
Other churches go to the other extreme and almost never mention giving, which is unfortunate. When people are attending a church, but not involved financially, not only are they robbing God, but they’re robbing themselves as well. God promises to bless those who prioritize generosity in giving.
It’s important that we all understand God’s heart behind it. He’s not begging. He’s not poor. He’s also not limited by our lack of generosity. However, the system that He’s set up is that the church survives off of the faithful generosity of the local congregation.
Although it doesn’t always mathematically measure up, my wife and I always make it a priority to give at least 10% of our income to the ministry. We make sure it’s the first money that leaves our account when my paycheck comes in. After all, I’d rather see the church be blessed than me save some extra money to eat at Chick-Fil-A that week!
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7
Also found within the pages of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians are words that I refer back to often, especially in moments of weakness and/or pain…
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9
I also resonate with Paul’s words at the tail end of his letter. Another reason he’s writing is to prepare the way for his third visit to Corinth. In Chapter 12 he writes of his love for the church there and his desire to see them grow. He affirms his love for them and tells them that he gladly exhausts himself on their behalf…
” I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls…” – 2 Corinthians 12:15
I certainly resonate with his words here about being “spent.” Church planting is by far the most challenging thing I’ve ever done..and I’ve only planted one church! It’s exhausting, it can be very burdensome, and it can be all-consuming if I allow it to be. Regardless of how hard it gets, I’m always blessed to be spent for the souls of those who the Lord sent me to minister to!