Read 2 Corinthians 2
1 So I made up my mind that I would not make another painful visit to you.2 For if I grieve you, who is left to make me glad but you whom I have grieved? 3 I wrote as I did, so that when I came I would not be distressed by those who should have made me rejoice. I had confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy. 4 For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.
Forgiveness for the Offender
5 If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. 6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.9 Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
Ministers of the New Covenant
12 Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, 13 I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said goodbye to them and went on to Macedonia.
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.
In this chapter, Paul continues to explain his personal journey. Some of the Corinthians were frustrated that Paul didn’t come back to Corinth like he said he would. They used that instance as an opportunity to cast doubt on his leadership abilities. Paul, however, removes any doubts they have about him by explaining why he didn’t come visit and reminding them in verse 12 that he goes where God opens doors. He says that it is God who leads His people as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession. Here, Paul is reminding them that he is simply a slave, obeying his master: following His lead wherever He goes, even if it means disappointing people in the process.
We need to read Paul’s defense of his ministry not simply as him defending his actions, but rather as an explanation of the life of a Christian. Like Paul, we, too, are simply slaves following our master. We might be led in ways that cause us to disappoint people, or we might be asked to do things that make us uncomfortable. But we need to remember: the Jesus way is one of suffering, rejection, pain, and discomfort. Like the church in Corinth, we sometimes forget what we signed up for when we became Christians. Our lives are not our own; we’ve been bought with a price. Therefore we don’t live the way we want to live, we live how God leads us to live.
Do you allow God to call the shots? Do you go where He leads you? Or, do you try to control your life and where you go and what you do each day? While it’s not easy to give up our “rights” and submit to someone else’s authority, when we realize Who is in control, we can be at peace and trust where He leads us.
Paul says that we are the pleasing aroma of Christ to the world around us. Scents are powerful; they leave lasting impressions and memories long after we’re away from something. Could you honestly say that you leave an impression or aroma of Christ in your interactions with people as you go about your daily life?
How often do you ask God where He wants you to go or what He wants you to do? Only during big decisions? Yearly? Monthly? Daily? How can you grow in this practice?
Is it difficult for you to consider yourself a slave to God’s leadership? In what area of your life do you struggle to give up control the most?
Did You Know?
Many commentaries believe the man referenced in verses 5-11 is the same man Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 5. In 1 Corinthians, Paul had to call out the church for being too lenient with his sin. Apparently, they listened to Paul and disciplined him, but now they’re refusing to reinstate him back into the community. Now, Paul has to call out their harshness and lack of forgiveness. Yes, we are called to discipline, but all discipline should lead to full repentance and restoration.