Read 2 Corinthians 7
1 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
Paul’s Joy Over the Church’s Repentance
2 Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. 3 I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. 4 I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.
5 For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. 6 But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7 and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.
8 Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— 9 yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. 12 So even though I wrote to you, it was neither on account of the one who did the wrong nor on account of the injured party, but rather that before God you could see for yourselves how devoted to us you are. 13 By all this we are encouraged.
In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you. 14 I had boasted to him about you, and you have not embarrassed me. But just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting about you to Titus has proved to be true as well. 15 And his affection for you is all the greater when he remembers that you were all obedient, receiving him with fear and trembling. 16 I am glad I can have complete confidence in you.
In this chapter, we get more background on Paul’s back-and-forths with the Corinthians since his last letter to them. We know that Paul wrote them another strongly-worded letter (that’s now lost) after a really painful visit to the church at Corinth, and he waited anxiously for a report from his associate, Titus, on how the letter was received. But, good news! The Corinthians were not only grieved over their sinfulness, but they also repented and turned away from their sin. This left Paul overjoyed to know his letter had been well received.
There are a couple of things we can learn from Paul and the Corinthians from this chapter. First, sometimes as believers we need to play the role of Paul, boldly pointing out sin and calling others to repentance. For some reading this, that sounds terrifying. For others, that’s just a normal Tuesday to you. Either way, we should feel a burden for our brothers and sisters in Christ when we know they’re walking down a dangerous path. If we really love them, we
will have to speak boldly to call them to repent and turn from their sin.
Other times, we’ll have to model the same humility we see from the church at Corinth. No one likes being told they’re in the wrong. It’s human nature to get defensive. With as many back-and-forths as Paul had with them up until this point, one could assume the Corinthians didn’t receive rebuke well. But this time was different. Paul tells them that “your sorrow led you to repentance.” Clearly God had done a work in their hearts, and it led them to a genuine brokenness. God often uses other believers to call out the sinful parts of our lives. This is why community is essential to the follower of Jesus. When people know us (and our ditches), they can help prevent us from falling into harmful patterns of sin and guide us back into a right relationship with God.
All throughout this passage, Paul uses really emotive language. Which emotions stuck out to you as you read through it? What do these emotions tell you about Paul and the Corinthians?
Is calling out sin in other believers something that is easy or difficult for you to do? Have you done this before? What did you learn from that experience?
When was the last time you had your own sin called out? What was your response? How can you have a posture of humility when receiving rebuke?
Did You Know?
It took Paul a while to reconnect with Titus, causing him a great deal of anguish. He mentioned in 1 Corinthians 2 that he wasn’t in Troas (where he expected to find him), so he then headed towards Macedonia. Combine that with his concern over how the letter was going to be received and you can imagine the emotional toll that the whole situation had taken on Paul.