- 2 Cor. 1:1-9:15
Paul and his companions left Ephesus shortly after an uproar led by the silversmith Demetrius due to the negative impact Paul's teachings had on Demetrius' income. (Demetrius made silver shrines of Artemis, the idol of Ephesus.) Paul traveled to Troas, apparently hoping to find Titus there, and then went on to Macedonia, where Titus joined him. It is from Macedonia that Paul writes the letter known as Second Corinthians.
When Titus arrived, he informed Paul how the Corinthians had responded to Paul's previous letter. Paul was concerned because he had a number of direct teachings and rebukes, and thankfully, the Corinthians had a proper attitude and repented of their sins. They seem to have corrected the problems with division as well as other sins which needed to be dealt with. In this latest letter to the Corinthians, Paul discusses two subjects that will make up today's devotional. The first has to do with proper repentance, and the second has to do with our attitude when giving.
8 Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— 9 yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.
(2 Cor. 7:8-11 NIV)
Godly sorrow brings repentance, but worldly sorrow brings death. This is such an important life lesson! When we sin, or wrong someone, how we respond is crucial. There are two classic examples which illustrate this contrast:
- When Peter denied Jesus three times, he went out and wept bitterly. However, the LORD Jesus restored Peter after His resurrection, because Peter was repentant in his heart.
- When Judas betrayed Jesus, he was sorry and gave back the money to the chief priests at the temple. However, his sorrow was not godly in nature, for he went out and hung himself.
GOD wants us to be sorrowful when we sin, but He wants that sorrow to lead to life and not death.
The second lesson deals with what our attitude should be when we give. The Corinthians had purposed to send relief to Jerusalem because the brethren there were in need (1 Cor. 16:1-3). However, a year later, they hadn't completed what they set out to do. Paul encourages them to follow through with their commitment because they had set a great example in their initial willingness to give, even though they themselves had needs. Then he discusses the attitude we should have:
6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
(2 Cor. 9:6-8 NIV)
GOD wants us to give, to be sure, but it matters to Him what our thinking is when we give. He doesn't want us to give because we feel like that's what we have to do or that's what we ought to do, but because that's what we want to do! Let's have a good attitude when we have opportunity to share and give to others.