I finished 2 Corinthians last week and wanted share some truths from the letter. There are many themes and questions that run throughout. The three I want to focus on is rebuke, hope and restoration.
This was Paul’s second letter of correction to the Corinthians. These were people that he loved. He wanted them to live in the truth. Even though he was having to rebuke them, he was not doing it to tear them down. He was doing it so that they could build themselves up again with the foundation of truth and come into restoration again. Even as I read 2 Corinthians, I was challenged by some of the questions that Paul was asking them. Rebuke is applicable to all our lives. Rebuke done in love, helps us to see the errors of our way. It gives us hope that we can move forward and be restored. That restoration can only come through Jesus. We can have incredible preachers, teachers and influencers. We have to make that commitment to surrender and live our lives to pursue Jesus.
Like any of us, the Corinthians were not perfect. Paul was not asking them to be prefect but he was challenging their behaviour and way of living. A few include their hardness of heart. Paul mentions throughout the letter how he loves them and how he is encouraged by them. 2 Cor 3v2-3 ‘You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, know and read by everyone. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of humans hearts.’ An incredible testimony. He later goes on to challenge them on their love. Paul has wrote about his hardship and then goes on to say. 6v11-13 ‘We have spoken freely to you, Corthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange- I speak as to my children- open wide your hearts also.’ Even in this rebuke, he does it in a tender way but he wants them to realise from his side there has only ever been love. It is their choice if they want to recieve it and give it back.
Paul also warns them against idolatry, they cannot be yoked with unbelievers. There is a complete distinction between what they believe. He also uses the time to remind them who they belong to. 6v16 ‘For what agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: I will live with them and among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ To be with an unbeliever would ultimately mean sacrificing who they have been called to be.
Continuing on with the idolatry they are also rebuked for how easily they can be deceived. They are reminded that even though they live in the world, they are called to live differently. This verse is applicable to each believer today. 11v20 ‘In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. ‘ All of us can fall short here, when we take our eyes off of Jesus. We are constantly looking for other things/people to fulfil us. We often don’t care what they are taking from us, we care more about living for that high or that moment of pleasure. We can so easily lose a lot of who we are. We all need to reflect and make wise decisions, surrendered decisions on who we are living our lives for.
Paul also challenges them on living out their faith. One of those means is by giving. He uses the example of the Macedonian churches. Even when they were suffering great trails and poverty. They gave so much, more than they could because they wanted to be a part of the service of the Lord’s people. Paul writes to the Corinthians 8v14-15 ‘At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written; “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little”. That is in reference to Exodus 16v18. It is a real call for them to look beyond themselves. To not let their security and faith be in their riches but to extend outwards. To support their brothers and sisters. Being the body of Christ. It is something all believers can reflect on even today. To look at where their security and trust is lying. Possibly to realise how small their perspective on life has been and how much need there is to be supported.
There are a lot of rebukes within this letter. I would recommend reading it through for yourself. Maybe something will challenge you or develop your understanding further. Here was a glimpse, now let us move on to hope.
7v8-9 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 – yet know 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. Rebuke is painful but in the case of the Corinthians it is beginning to bring beauty and life. For the rebuke did not cause them to despair and lose hope. Instead, it led them back to God. They repented and there was such fruit from that repentance.
V11 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. Rebuke was good for them, even in the mistakes they were making, Paul had hope for them. He loved them, he cared for them and he nourished them with God’s word. He spoke truth over them.
Paul talks about suffering and persecution. Even in the hardship of that, that they need to hold onto hope. 4v17-18 ‘For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.’ Paul was a man who knew suffering, he also knew where his hope was found. It is was in no earthly thing or person. Even through the hardship, he kept his eyes fixed on Jesus. He kept his eyes fixed on the purpose of his ministry. Through that he shared the gospel by all means possible. When he encourages the Corinthians, he does it knowing the hardship that comes from being a Christ follower. Also the joy and life that it gives too. We can all be encouraged and challenged by Paul’s ministry and devotion.
Paul pours so much time and care int the the people of Corinth. Paul does have his doubts but he also has hope for them. The hope and restoration he he has for them is beautifully put in the concluding words of the letter.
V11-14 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All God’s people here send their greetings. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
There was a call for unity, peace, love and life. Paul wanted them to be one, to support one another. To not allow the worldly ways to divide them. All that he asks of them is achievable but not in their own strength. Each day they need the strength and love of God through the spirit. They need grace to meet them and they need to keep their eyes fixed on Jesus. There is such a love and care for these people. A lot of hope.
I have come to love this letter due to the grace and hope that flows through it. To see rebuke in a positive light, helps each and everyone of us in our faith. We do need our decisions and motives to be challenged, when they are not in line with who we are called to be. We need to be aware of where we are putting our hope, time and energy. We need to be realigned with the truth. To make sure we are standing on the sure foundation of truth. Rebuke is never easy but may we be able to see it as something that leads to hope and restoration.
As always read the text for yourself. Allow God to speak to you through it. Even if you want to add something, leave it in the comments.
Proverbs 1v23-24 Listen when I reprimand you; I will give you good advice and share my knowledge with you. I have been calling you, inviting you to come, but you would not listen. You paid no attention.
May we never miss the call of Godly wisdom over our lives.
Remember you are loved and cherished. May you continue to grow in wisdom and grace. God bless, Victoria. Xx
P. S This week will be a two blog week, because I did not manage my time too well last week. Xx