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? [2 corinthians 1:1-2]
paul knew that if he came to them he would have to again point out their sin. sometimes we need to leave people for God to do the work. now paul still writes, but he does not visit.
as we continue to read this letter, we will see time and time again why paul determined not to visit.
“make room in your hearts for us. we have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. i do not say this to condemn you, for i said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. i am acting with great boldness toward you; i have great pride in you; i am filled with comfort. in all our affliction, i am overflowing with joy.” [2 corinthians 7:2-4]
“look at what is before your eyes. if anyone is confident that he is Christ’s, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we. for even if i boast a little too much of our authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you, i will not be ashamed. i do not want to appear to be frightening you with my letters. for they say, “his letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account.” let such a person understand that what we say by letter when absent, we do when present. not that we dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who are commending themselves. but when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.” [2 corinthians 10:7-12]
“this is the third time i am coming to you. every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. i warned those who sinned before and all the others, and i warn them now while absent, as i did when present on my second visit, that if i come again i will not spare them— since you seek proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. for he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. for we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.” [2 corinthians 13:1-4]
please do not skip reading paul’s words. hear his heart. listen to his words. do you need to hear them?
paul has a clear conscience, he speaks of and in his integrity, and he knows his identity in Christ. now he longs to not come and be critical of his brethren again. another visit would not be good for the corinthians, nor would it be good for paul. he sees how his last visit served to be fault finding and in his letter shows how he discerned to not come again. if we only are severe and come with rebuke our praise will fall on weak discouraged hearts. paul is resolute in his words and calls the corinthians to live better in Christ, but he also has encouraged them. pushed them to their true identity in Christ so that he may return for a less painful visit.
pray today that pauls words would reach the depths of your own heart. “if anyone is confident that he is Christ’s, let him remind himself that just as he is Christ’s, so also are we.” (2 cor 10:7). are you reminding your fellow believer of their identity as a holy and blameless child of the king, or are you fault finding their sin only? pray. ask for a heart of an encourager like our savior Jesus.
~ holly russell