THE REAL ENEMY
Lord, I bring my emotions to You today. Put Your loving hand over me.
Read 2 Corinthians 1:23—2:11
23 I call God as my witness—and I stake my life on it—that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. 24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm. 2 1 So I made up my mind that I would not make another painful visit to you. 2 For if I grieve you, who is left to make me glad but you whom I have grieved? 3 I wrote as I did, so that when I came I would not be distressed by those who should have made me rejoice. I had confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy. 4 For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.
Forgiveness for the Offender
5 If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. 6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. 9 Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
New International Version (NIV)
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ReflectWhat went so wrong in Paul’s relationship with the Corinthians?
Look at the vocabulary in 2:1–4: painful, grieved, distressed, anguish of heart, tears. It appears that Paul had paid a visit to Corinth, which proved painful for everyone (2:1). Then, when he did not make a second visit as planned, this was interpreted as a breach of trust. Paul goes out of his way to reassure the church that the only reason he stayed away was to spare them (and maybe himself) further pain (1:23).
Paul seems confident that the basic relationship between himself and the church at Corinth is sound. He is respectful of their faith and does not need to pull rank (1:24). They are not the enemy.
However, there is a third party—not named—who has been the source of grief for both Paul and the church (2:5). The use of the phrase “all of you” suggests that this person has come from outside of Corinth, maybe a teacher who is undermining Paul.
The church has put distance between itself and this person. However, he also is not the enemy, and Paul encourages the church to forgive him (2:7). The real enemy is Satan himself, who seeks to divide the church of Christ (2:11; cf. Eph. 6:12).
How have you viewed your “enemies” in the past? Have you ever realized that they have an eternal soul that needs saving? How can you share the love of Christ with a difficult person today?
I praise You, God, that I can bring all of my relationships before You. Thank You for caring about each detail of my life.