2 Corinthians 2:1-17
1 But I determined this within myself, that I would not come again to you in sorrow.
2 For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?
3 And I wrote this very thing to you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow over those from whom I ought to have joy, having confidence in you all that my joy is the joy of you all.
4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you.
5 But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent—not to be too severe.
6 This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man,
7 so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow.
8 Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him.
9 For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things.
10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ,
11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.
12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord,
13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia.
14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.
15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.
16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?
17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.
With any administering of discipline there is an opportunity to discover and respond to the condition of the heart in which it takes place. Paul here is doing this with regard to the man in 1 Corinthians who they had allowed to live incestuously and he had directed to be excommunicated. This was an act that was of necessity carried out by all of the church, bringing a sense of sorrow upon the whole congregation. Possibly this man had been liked/loved by them and removing him from their congregation had brought a cloud of sorrow over them. While this discipline was a most necessary action, Paul delicately, without even mentioning the man’s name, stresses the need for compassion and forgiveness, with anguish of heart. As he had been brought to repentance, their hearts should not remain judgmental, causing his sentence to be permanent. Paul is acknowledging that the necessities of correction come with inevitable consequences for the body as a whole. In his example, he is providing the way in which any discipline should be carried out – not with malice or vindictiveness, but with great regret and anguish of heart. There should be an attitude that reveals a knowing the love and mercy of the Father, the forgiveness and restoration He provided for us in Christ, while we were still sinners. It’s from this heart of love that the joyful triumph of the cross is accomplished, not just in us individually, but collectively, as that same heart is embraced toward one another. The atmosphere changes from debilitating sorrow in judgment to joy in restoration where the heart is kept in tears of regret and anguish. Our ministry isn’t perceiving error and inflicting division, but rather bringing reconciliation where sin has caused havoc. The purpose of any discipline – in the church, the home, society, etc. should be to maintain the unity for the whole through actions that aren’t savored and hastened to, but done with gravity of heart.
The truth of the Gospel will bring correction in transformation for those who are allowed to repent, while there will yet be those whose own choice leads them to remain apart from God’s heart. Our’s is to only be the obedient messengers of that heart with the fragrance of grace.
I really saw verse 14 as a declaration of the goodness of God this morning.
I thank you Lord for the victory that is already mine and that it will bring glory and honor to you!