Ye Who Are Spiritual: 2 Corinthians 7:8-13

Steven Haguewood

It is often said by people who have loved ones who are lost in sin that they are trying to cultivate love and not offend anyone. Friendship is placed at a premium, often at the cost of eternity for someone who needs godly guidance from God’s spiritual people. The teaching is clear to the Christian. When you see a brother or sister who is living outside the light of the Christian walk, your job is to help correct that person’s life. Galatians 6:1-2, “Brethren, if anyone is caught up in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”

Too many times we place excessive emphasis on personal feelings and not enough on the eternal state of the lost. The logic is that we are trying to preserve love and let our influence change people. This is not working. People to whom we show such “love” see our acceptance of them as approval of their behavior. That is not to say that love is not due that person, but love cannot abide the death that follows a life of sin (Romans 6:23). That same person would not stand by the bed of someone dying of cancer and withhold the cure. Neither let us stand by, claiming love, while our brothers and sisters die of spiritual cancer for all of eternity.

Paul did not allow the Corinthians to continue in sin without addressing it. He wrote a “previous letter” (1 Corinthians 5:9), 1 Corinthians, a “sorrowful letter (2 Corinthians 7:8), and 2 Corinthians, along with several visits. Each of these letters and visits were attempts to correct sinful situations that had crept into the church in Corinth.

It is to the “sorrowful letter” of 2 Corinthians 7:8 that we now turn our attention. The contents of this letter have been lost so that it cannot be analyzed. However, we can deduce a few things. One is that the letter made those in Corinth sorrowful. Another is that Paul wrote the letter. Finally, this sorrowful letter spurred repentance in the Corinthians. It was not Paul’s aim to hurt feelings, but it is clear that he intended to correct their understanding of God’s word and help them come back to God.

Paul’s letter to Corinth made them sorrowful. This is an emotion that we hope to avoid. It is clear that Paul’s intention was not to hurt their feelings necessarily. Paul’s rejoicing was not their sorrow but that their sorrow led to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9). The fear of hurting feelings did not stop Paul from writing the letter. The saying goes, “Sometimes truth hurts.” The world can accept the truth in a situation and learn from hurtful situations, but, when it comes to absolute truth, we tend to shy away from the truth and defer to the sensitivity of others. In our dealing with others, we must never intend to hurt feelings, but, if we are ever to help others correct their error, sometimes we must do difficult things.

Paul did, indeed, write the sorrowful letter. He did not let the thought of “stepping on toes” make him lose his aim at their hearts. Often it is just such steps that awaken someone to his or her own error. It is often the case that the object of our correction sees just how difficult it is to take such a step and appreciates the love involved. Paul definitely wrote this letter to the Corinthians for the purpose of exposing the spiritual deficiency in their lives because he loved them and wanted them to love him and God as they should (2 Corinthians 6:11-12). Paul did not want to hurt feelings, but he also did not want God’s work to go undone. He realized his obligation to God and to his brethren at Corinth and took his responsibility seriously. Sometimes love means doing the difficult thing because the easy thing is not best for the one we love.

Notice, too, that Paul’s letter led to godly sorrow that brought about repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). We learn just how wise God is when we actually do things His way. He instructs us to “Bear one another’s burdens” and to “… restore such a one …” when we see one caught up in sin. Those caught up in sin will not be restored by the world. They will not be restored if they continue with the influences they had that led them to this sinful state. Do not be afraid to be an influence that leads them back to the ways of Christ and away from the sin that has ensnared them. Sometimes this is a difficult thing, but love means sometimes doing the more difficult thing for the good of the one we love.

Paul acted out of love when he wrote to correct the Corinthians. He was not hateful or demeaning to them as people. However, he did stand up against sin and correct their actions. Because he loved enough to correct error, the church at Corinth repented and was won back to the ways of Christ. Christians must remember one thing for certain: the reward for sin is death. Not one of us would stand by while a loved one died of cancer if we had the cure. It is abundantly less acceptable to stand aside while those we profess to love die of spiritual cancer when we have the cure. They may accept the cure. We must offer it or stand before God with no excuse. Love your brethren enough to speak up to them when you see they are caught up in a sin that is going to cost them eternally. It will be difficult at times, but love demands doing these difficult things. -1301 West Virginia Ave., Parkersburg, WV 26104.

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