2 Corinthians 2
-Paul, perhaps for his own sake, determined he would not come to the Corinthians in the sorrow of a painful visit again. He is genuinely hurt by the events and words spoken in strife, pride, and anger, which have had a factious effect on the church and his relationship with them. Even though he had had great joy and rejoicing in ministering to them, there had been some hard times. He had to write to them out of anguish of heart and much affliction with many tears. In other words, there had been some things happen that caused him great distress. He didn’t want to cause them pain; he was trying to let them know of his abundant love toward them (2 Corinthians 2:4). *Application* Sometimes the best of our intentions have a temporarily negative effect when people take what we have to say in regards to words of correction the wrong way. Our society, much like what Paul probably experienced, would rather avoid conflict than to confront with correction. It is a painful process sometimes when we have to give or receive a hard word even if it is meant for benefit in love (Psalm 141:5, Proverbs 27:5-6). Be responsive to people when they might have a criticism or reprove. It may just be the oil of healing for your soul. Be wise when you have to give a word from the Lord in correction. Let your love flow down as the forbearing spirit.
-Forgiveness becomes the theme of the next few verses as Paul discusses an unknown matter where severe punishment was handed out too excessively. Paul begs for the Corinthian church to reaffirm their love for this brother so that he would not be overwhelmed with excessive sorrow. Paul makes an astute observation at the end of his comments here that we would do well to glean from. We are in a spiritual war with an enemy. We are not to be outwitted by Satan for we are not ignorant of his schemes (designs, plans, 2 Corinthians 2:11). *Application* One of the factors in our spiritual warfare that we need to consider here in context is wounding another brother or sister in Christ beyond repair. Satan’s design is to fragment and tear us apart, and he is really good at it. We must remember that we are all one body in Christ and should suffer sorrow alongside one another when there is not only pain, but sinful retribution (1 Corinthians 12:26). This is a good word for us to heed as we consider how Christians should live in community. Lack of forgiveness opens the door for satanic attack. Don’t be ignorant of the devil’s schemes!
-Paul now focuses on how we triumph in Christ always with thanksgiving (2 Corinthians 2:14). We are the fragrance (smell, odor) of the knowledge of the Lord everywhere we go as believers. To those who are being saved we are a sweet smelling aroma of Christ unto life (2 Corinthians 2:15-16). The opposite is also true. As we represent our Lord and His favor, those who are in the process of dying are offended and smell that aroma as a stench of death in their nostrils since they know they are perishing without hope (2 Corinthians 2:16). *Application* As believers we radiate the Lord in our lives. Realize the impact you have on those you come in contact with and exude the fragrance of Christ in every place.
-Paul states as the chapter ends that we are not peddlers (corrupt deceivers, fakes, phonies) of God’s Word for profit (this could be material or for prideful power). In contrast, we are to be sincere (pure motives) with the message of Christ. We are commissioned by God for this essential and authoritative work as we speak Christ Jesus and His plan for meaning and purpose in life through salvation (2 Corinthians 2:17). *Application* There should absolutely be a seriousness to the call of God in your life. Don’t do things flippantly or with the wrong motives. Have you no fear of God? He demands our holiness in the endeavor to make disciples of all nations. In the end it will not matter how much money you made or what position you had here on this earth. Keep this always in mind as you serve the Lord with a pure heart.
Verse to Memorize- 2 Corinthians 2:15