i rejoice, because i have complete confidence in you. [2 cor 7:16]
as Christians, we are commanded to do lots of things that are uncomfortable–namely rebuking, exhorting, calling each other out to a life marked with righteousness. because we are not righteous in our flesh, and are humans dealing with other humans, our lives will be marked with conflict– this is how we grow, this is how we change, this is how we transform “from one degree of glory to another.” [2 corinthians 3:18]
the painful work of iron sharpening iron [proverbs 27:17] creates heat, creates sparks and makes something that is unuseful, useful. but to what end? joy!
when i am called out in genuine, gospel centered correction, my flesh reacts. i bristle, my defenses go up. i want to fight. i want to defend myself…but the Spirit overcomes me. i know i have Christ in me. i pray for the Lord to show me my sin. i soak in the words of my exhorter (often my wife), i hold their words up to scripture and see my own sin. i confess my sin. i repent. i run to God. then i experience joy.
joy and gratitude at being able to confess and repent.
joy that i have Christ in me, that the Holy Spirit grieves my sin.
joy in the blood of Jesus that washes away my sin.
joy in the Father who gave me a way of escape from my sin.
joy that someone loves me enough to speak truth to me even though it hurts sometimes.
joy that i get to walk in the presence of a Holy God.
joy. inexpressable joy.
this cycle of repentance and joy is made all the more joyful when the one who corrects also gets to experience the joy of watching someone that is far come near to God.
paul’s “complete confidence’ doesn’t come from the thought that the corinthians will never sin again–his confidence is in their embrace of repentance, his confidence is that Christ is working in their hearts. paul writes something similar to the philippians:
 i thank my God in all my remembrance of you,  always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy,  because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.  and i am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. [phillipians 1:3-6]
he uses the phrase “i am sure of this”–in verse 6: his sureness, his confidence is in God bringing repentance. there is clear evidence of God changing hearts, God saving to the uttermost.
paul had brief regret [2 corinthians 7:8] at having to write hard things to the corinthians, but paul got to experience the joy that comes from Godly grief that leads to salvation and repentance.
oh, that we would have hope in this joy: let us boldly call one another to repentance, let us weep over our brokenness and sin, let us rejoice together over those who repent and turn to Christ!