I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene.
“It is good for you to be amazed, to be overawed that the Creator of the whole universe – the One who created all the galaxies should allow you to stand here in his presence. But I not only allow you, I invite you and I invite you not as one who is just an object that I created – but I invite you as a friend, I invite you into fellowship – to sit at my table as it were with Me and enjoy my friendship. I invite you as a son, a brother, a friend – my purpose is growing that friendship – so yes, stand amazed and overawed – but let that be the starting point, the underlying basis of our friendship – but let it grow from there into a full blown friendship where you can share everything with me.”
Continuing now in 2 Corinthians 7, Paul maintains his affirmation of love and concern towards them He reminds them of the delegation of Titus to them and affirms his delight at the result. Not only did the news of their reception comfort him, he is delighted that Titus had in fact, comforted them. We are taken back again to the beginning of the letter where Paul emphasized the concept of “comfort”, against the background of God being the Supreme Comforter and how we should all take a cue from that using the comfort we have received during difficult times as a basis to comfort others.
But now we come to a crucial paragraph in the whole letter from vs 8. Underlying Paul’s previous letter, which he describes as severe and which he is sort of expressing regret (I think with tongue in the cheek) that he had to send it, we have this magnificent exposition of what true repentance is. That is the repentance that Paul was seeking in them and perceived that they had shown it.
Can you see the emphasis in this section? Paul starts with the fact that repentance starts with “sorrow” vs 9. However he makes a strong point about this sorrow. You see there are two types of sorrow people experience when they are confronted with their sin. Can you see them? Godly sorrow and worldly sorrow..
I can remember sitting on the beach at Pringle Bay where I had gone to confront a brother who was involved in adultery. As I spoke to him he wept copiously, threw himself on the ground and declared his sorrow. However, as it turned out, his behaviour never changed. The sorrow he was expressing was “worldly sorrow”. In some way, I suppose he was sorry that he had been exposed and would be unable to continue as before.
True, godly sorrow comes when one realizes the full extent that your behaviour has offended God, not other people. We see that in Psalm 51:4 where David, although his sin had causes huge pain to others, is more concerned about the pain that it caused God. “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done evil in your sight”.
Paul compares the two types of sorrow in their final effect. Godley sorrow leads to salvation and leaves no regret, whereas worldly sorrow brings death. I take it he is speaking here about eternal death.. Look how he shows that their sorrow was indeed godly sorrow. vs 11,12. Godly sorrow, followed by true repentance always leads to a change in behaviour, even if it is slow sometimes.
Paul has turned the purpose of his writing to a different perspective at the end of this chapter. He expresses his satisfaction that having encouraged them at the same time they had in turn encouraged Paul and Titus. How this correspondence had, in fact improved their relationship with each other. He ends the chapter with a final word of encouragement in vs 16 “I’m glad I can have complete confidence in you”.
So what did I learn and hear Jesus say from this chapter? Well, firstly I was reminded of the pivotal role repentance plays in the practice of our relationship with the Lord. Without writing an essay on it, I would say that the important feature’s of repentance are – firstly a recognition of the the enormous gulf sin causes between us and God. To remember the pain we cause Him when we sin. Then a genuine regret that comes with that as well as realizing that in Jesus lies complete forgiveness and the power to change future behaviour. This is integral to how we conduct our relationship with the Lord. It should be like breathing.
I find it abhorrent when fellow Christians walk around with long faces bemoaning their sinful state. We live a life of victory in Jesus and the remedy for our sin is at hand. We should recognize it and deal with it in the manner which God has prescribed. Then we can experience the full joy of our relationship with the Father.
It has also struck me how hard Paul has worked at winning the Corinthian church back to him and to he Lord of course. That is surely an example we need to take to heart.
Well. bless you on this cold wintery evening and share any other insights you may have had from this chapter with us on the blog comments.