2 Corinthians 2: Who Is Equal to Such a Task?
May 3, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
1 Samuel 6-8, Psalm 97, Mark 10:17-34, 2 Corinthians 2
More insights here into the gospel-centered relationship that exists in a church, even, as in Corinth, in a church that has some significant tensions being addressed by Paul.
First, note the genuine and spiritually profound emotion that tied Paul to the Corinthians. These are people that had severely criticized him and who had disappointed him in various ways that are on record (and others that are probably not). And yet Paul can still write with deep affection, with expressions of his tears and his heart, and with an overriding goal for their benefit: “That you would all share my joy.” Perhaps you have some tension with another Christian. Would you ask God today to give you the heart of the apostle Paul for his church, to grieve with those who grieve, and always to aim for the edification, and great joy, of all God’s people?
Second, note the careful balance that Paul brings here with relation to church discipline. The context is that an individual has been disciplined for committing serious and flagrant public immorality. But that individual has repented. What then? Paul is very careful that the Corinthian church, having been at first very slow to take their responsibility towards church discipline seriously, does not now over-react and treat this repentant brother with harshness. On the contrary he wants them to “reaffirm your love for him.” Perhaps there is someone you know who has done something wrong. Perhaps it was a terrible sin—deeply damaging to him and other people. But he is repentant. If he is repentant, then it is now time for you to reaffirm your love for him. Those who have been awakened to their own sin especially need assurance of God’s grace and the love of God’s people. Perhaps you could be an instrument of love in the Redeemer’s hands as you bind up the wounds of the repentant sinner today.
Third, note the confident yet serious approach that Paul has to his ministry of the Word. One the one hand, Paul is almost triumphalistic in his confidence that God would use the word that Paul preached. He views himself as a captive in “Christ’s triumphal procession” (the picture drawn from the great Roman triumphs where the victorious general would parade his captors coming behind him). He is captured by Christ’s love and is now in Christ’s triumph! On the other hand, Paul’s ministry, though triumphant, is also serious. A serious choice is presented whenever he speaks. To the one, the aroma of death, to another the aroma of life. Therefore, he doesn’t just use the word to gain a quick profit (“peddle the word of God for profit”), he speaks with sincerity as someone “sent from God.” That is how we are to speak when we share the gospel with our friends or family, whether from the pulpit, in the store or business or home. You are sent from God to give God’s message. Therefore, speak it with sincerity, and yes, seriousness. Those who hear the gospel have an opportunity to be saved, but if they reject it, then they too will be rejected; we are the aroma of life but also of death.
“Who then is equal to such a task?” as Paul himself asks. If the apostle Paul felt unequal to the task, how much more so all of us. And yet God is able to use the weak things of this world to shame the wise, so with confidence, prayer, and trust in God, we speak the gospel with prayerful dependence and godly sincerity.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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