Growing Pains in Relationship

  1. Message:  In 2 Corinthians 2 Paul was talking about a painful letter he wrote and painful visit he had with the church at Corinth. He spoke out of grief from the turmoil and it seemed he wanted a break from it and wanted to experience joy between himself and the church again. The footnotes in my bible speculate about which painful topics Paul is referring to but as I recall my reading and writing through each chapter of 1 Corinthians it seemed like every day we were reading and talking about things Paul was calling them out on. He spoke a lot about their immaturity, their choosing of sides and their pride in not judging a man who was part of their church while openly living in incest. If they were in fact immature and caught up in superficial things they probably were deeply offended by Paul’s letter and they may have had a strained relationship with Paul. In chapter 2 of 2 Corinthians Paul was expressing his anguish of writing these things to them. He told them he was in tears and wanted to share joy and encouragement with them again. This wasn’t out of regret. It was out of a desire for restoration. Any parent who has ever had to discipline a child understands how it feels to correct your child who desperately needs the correction and wait for them to come around to the understanding that you care. Depending on the age, the severity of the violation and the state of the child’s maturity this coming around process could take minutes, hours, days, months or years. Many of us have also had these kind of moments with adult friends or family. Where we probably don’t have authority over another adult, we have definitely had to have some hard conversations that may have taken time to heal. We have probably been on the receiving end as well.
  2. Command: Relationship is absolutely necessary in correction.
  3. Promise:  If we correct with love and humility we will help people grow, and if we receive correction with love and humility we ourselves will grow.
  4. Warning:  If love is not the motive behind our correction, we will not help anyone and we will be a stumbling block instead. If we don’t humble ourselves when we are being corrected, we will not grow.
  5. Application:  What I took from this is the importance of having hard conversations, but doing it with graciousness and a heart to restore. We’re seeing some difficult times in our country right now and while many people are just voicing opinions, many others are having difficult conversations. If my approach is to shut someone else down, I will not reach them and will probably damage the legitimacy of my point. If my intent is to learn and to provoke others to a better way my speech has to be in the attitude of restoration. You can’t tear someone down as an approach to get them to change their minds. It has to be done with a spirit of empowerment. On the contrary, we also have to be willing to hear another view and consider it without immediately discarding what we don’t feel aligned with. Paul was in a position of authority with the church. He was teaching them the truth of the gospel but we are all learning together. The most important part of learning is in relationship. This is what Paul was trying to restore with the church in order to continue in their growth. This is what we need to pursue hard after in our growth process. We do this in relationship. If we correct with love and humility we will help people grow, and if we receive correction with love and humility we ourselves will grow.

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