*Please note: as you may have noticed the discussion questions in the bulletin on Sunday were outdated. The link at the end of this post includes the correct discussion questions for Sunday’s text. I apologize for the mistake.
On Sunday we learned about Paul’s travel plans in 2 Cor. 1:12-2:4. Paul had changed his plans regarding his travel to Corinth, and the Corinthian church seemed to believe that Paul was fickle and unreliable. Paul defends his motives as he navigates a very testy relationship with the Corinthians. We too have to navigate difficult and sometimes tense relationships. Paul gives us at least 3 principles to bear in mind as we seek to be godly in the midst of difficult and tense relationships.
1. Pursue a clear conscience.
Paul has confidence in the fact that his conscience is clear regarding his motivations with his travel plans to and from Corinth. Paul is not, however, saying that because he doesn’t feel guilty they cannot question his feelings. Paul has an informed conscience. His conscience is informed by the faithfulness and character of God. In order to have a clear conscience we need to hear people’s criticisms of us, and evaluate them honestly in light of God’s Word and character. In the midst of tense relationships we should always strive to pursue a clear conscience.
2. Beware assuming the worst.
The Corinthians attributed sinful motives to Paul without knowing the whole story. They simply assumed the worst. When relationships are tense we struggle with assuming terrible things about people. We assume all kinds of negative things about people with virtually no evidence. This is an especially strong temptation when relationships are tense. We need to be on guard against this as we seek to believe all things about people (1 Cor. 13).
3. Have the goal of joy together.
Paul did not relish having to correct and discipline the Corinthians. In fact, he cancelled a visit to Corinth so that he wouldn’t have to do this again. Paul only corrected the Corinthians with tears and sorrow. Paul’s ultimate goal was not correction, but to rejoice in the Lord with the Corinthians. Paul only corrected people in order to rejoice in the Lord together. When relationships are tense many sinful motives will compete for our attention. Paul calls us to be guided by the goal of mutual joy in the Lord. May this guide us as we minister to one another in the Christ!
Here are the discussion questions and order of service from Sunday: 2 Cor. 1.12-2.4 Notes.
-Pastor Nathan Hogan