for i made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you. for if i cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom i have pained? and i wrote as i did, so that when i came i might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for i felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all. for i wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that i have for you. [2 corinthians 3:1-4]

three weeks ago, we learned about having a clear conscience and how paul writes, “not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God” (2 cor 1:12). two weeks ago, we learned of integrity and that paul writes, “as surely as God is faithful” (2 cor 1:18). last week, we learned of our identity in Christ and how paul knows he has been established, anointed, and sealed (2 cor 1:21-22).

for the last three weeks, we have been seeing paul build his defense in Christ as to why he did not come to visit the corinthians. my flesh would have said peace out to the corinthians a long time ago. i want to see paul as being a wimp, but i cannot. he is being truly kind and compassionate to his corinthian brethren. instead of leaving from his “painful visit” and declaring good riddance, he writes. he has written his heart to these people for their edification, for renewed relationship.

i end relationships. we suggest others “cut them off.” but paul, beaten, attacked, with every reason to turn his back on them, pursues them. o to have the heart of paul and stand so firm in our identity in Christ that no relationship with man is too much, too hard, too far gone.

is there a relationship you cut off? someone you deemed beyond help? pray. please pray for God to bring to mind those relationships you have given up on in your strength that he wants you to pursue in his strength.


~ holly russell