The Anguish and Joy of Love – 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:11 – 11 January 2015
Having spoken much of ‘comfort’ early in his letter, and then defending his change of plans to visit them on his way to Macedonia, Paul now writes much of ‘pain’ as he explains the main reason why Paul chose not to visit the Corinthian believers. He did not want to cause the Corinthians any further pain. Even though his letter may cause them some pain, a visit in the current circumstances would cause much more. And so, he writes to them, out of his own pain – ‘out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears’. The source of this pain though, was not hatred or anger, but love. The deepest of pain is felt by the heart which loves the deepest. As we go through the rest of this letter, it will be important to remember that Paul writes, ‘not to cause them pain, but to let them know the abundant love he has for them.’
In turn, Paul instructs the Corinthian believers to extend and affirm the same love to one of their own who has been disciplined by the church. They are to ‘forgive and comfort him’. As we read elsewhere, ‘as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive’. To do otherwise, would not only be contrary to the gospel and comfort they have received in Christ, but would also provide an entrance for Satan to have his way among them.
Just as there is no comfort where is no affliction, there is no love without pain. Yet, despite the affliction and pain, the comfort and love of God in Christ bring much joy to all who have been established by God in Christ. May we too know this same comfort, love and joy together.