2nd Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 7
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2006|
|Well, today in our text in 2 Corinthians 1, we’re going to see that the apostle Paul had all the evidence that was needed to convict him as being guilty of being a Christian. Now it is this evidence in our lives that people see. This is the evidence in our lives that touches people that don’t know about the Lord Jesus Christ. When Our Walk Matches Our Talk – Part 2|
Evidence That Proves Us Guilty
Turn with me this morning to 2 Corinthians as we continue to move right along as we study this wonderful book, this letter of Paul to the Corinthian church. We’re talking about a mini-series within a big series. It’s called, “When Our Walk Matches Our Talk,” and this is part 2 of that. I want to emphasize the fact of the evidence that convicts us as guilty.
You say, “Where in the world are you headed with this?” Well, just hang on and I think you’ll understand. When I was in youth and recreation work, I had a gymnasium and I did all the recreation activities and the camps and everything. And we had a big banner, I had a big banner put up all the way the length of the wall in that gym and on it were huge letters that said these words: If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
And that came in real handy, especially when we were having church league men’s basketball games. You see, when I was growing up I was in city league ball and you had to be bleeding to have a foul. I mean, I want to tell you the worst group I’ve ever dealt with has been in the church leagues. When you have Mr. Deacon and Mr. Sunday School Teacher, and whoever it is, playing basketball, funny things come out of them, especially when you make a call they don’t like. And so that sign really helped me out. I’d just walk up to them and put my arm around them and just get them over to the side and point to the sign. If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? That usually solved the whole situation. Sometimes we had to do more drastic measures.
Well, today in our text in 2 Corinthians 1, we’re going to see that the apostle Paul had all the evidence that was needed to convict him as being guilty of being a Christian. Now it is this evidence in our lives that people see. This is the evidence in our lives that touches people that don’t know about the Lord Jesus Christ. When we’re in the restaurant, when we’re across the street, when we’re doing our normal thing during the week, when they look at us and see the evidence that we really are what we say we are. Our walk is matching our talk; this is what we call “missions” across the street and around the world.
How do we become a part of reaching people for the Lord Jesus Christ? And I know this sounds simple, but as I was studying this message, God gave me the answer. The answer is right in front of my face. You know where it starts? It doesn’t start out there; it doesn’t start with somebody who is really good at raising funds. I’m terrible at that. Where it starts is each individual person that makes up the church begins to have an intimate walk with the Lord Jesus Christ. Letting Jesus be Jesus in and through us. You see, it’s only then that we get to join Him in what He’s already up to in this world. He’s the One Who prompts the heart to give; He’s the One Who gives direction to the needs that He puts within our grasp. He in us makes a lasting impression on the people that are around us.
The thing that changes the image of the church is not what we do with the property, it’s not cutting the grass. We are the church: it’s when we come to that place of surrender in our lives and Jesus is Jesus in us. That’s what changes the world. And it’s so exciting to see people who are allowing God to do that.
Recently I had the opportunity to fly to California for less than 24 hours. And it was in a beautiful place. I was speaking to the Young Professional Organization in America. That’s the CEO’s and presidents of companies that are 40 years old and under. And they told me they were going to have a limo to pick me up. I got outside and there was a lady standing there saying, “Mr. Barber?” I walked over and said I was Wayne and she said, “I’m your limo driver.” And this limo driver got me in there, and I was sitting in the back. And it wasn’t thirty seconds into the drive and she started talking to me and she said, “I just want you to know I’m a born-again believer and I love the Lord Jesus Christ.” And she found out I was a preacher and liked to have talked the ears off my head before we got to that place. It was awesome. She’s been working with this company for two years and she’s going to Bible school and she just wanted to tell me about it.
I had the opportunity to speak the next morning and turned right around and went back, it was less than 24 hours. I got in that limo again and it wasn’t my little friend. It was another fellow and he was about early 50s. And I said, “What do you do?” And he said, “Man, I’m a surfer. And I came out here to California because I love to surf.” I said, “Really? How long have you been with this company?” He said, “Oh, ten, twelve years. But let me tell you this. That’s not really what I do now.” And I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “This just makes my money. When I got out here to surf, I came to know the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m a believer and I live my life just to tell people about Jesus.” And I’m thinking, “Where am I?” Man, it was awesome! And I’ll tell you one thing: they made an impact on me.
Let me ask you this question: is there enough evidence in your life this morning to convict you of being a believer when you’re out in the world that you’re in? See, this evidence is what we’ll see today in the apostle Paul. And the apostle Paul was the greatest missionary in his day and he tells us why. He says it’s because he came to understand that Jesus was living in him now as a believer. On the Damascus road he had a life changing experience and he just let Jesus be Jesus in him.
And according to Romans 15:18, he reached a Gentile world—that God had assigned, by the way, to him—and in verse 18 of that chapter he said it was a result of Christ working through him. He said, “For I will not presume to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me.” Well, one of the things that Christ accomplished through Paul was the church of Corinth. Acts tells us about that. When he went over to Corinth and he met Priscilla and Aquila who were tentmakers and he got to know them and here comes Silas and Timothy and they started preaching the Word of God and the church of Corinth was birthed. Now, we’re studying the book of 2 Corinthians. They are the result of a man that said, “I want to have a walk with God; I want to let Jesus be Jesus in me.”
That’s what I’m trying to tell us today. It starts right there. Well, when the church began, the apostle Paul learned what it takes some of us a lot longer to learn. There were some who hated him. You know why? Because he preached the Word of God which did something that they didn’t like. It raised the standard in their lives and they didn’t want to live under anybody’s authority. As a result of that the church of Corinth was upside down, enamored by the world and the way the world does things.
They were constantly trying to find any flaw in the character of the apostle Paul. And we’re going to see today what they did. An unfortunate thing happened that he had to change his plans, and we understand it from a textual study today. But because he didn’t do what he said he was going to do—he has a good answer for it—the people that didn’t like what he preached used this to tear the man down. He’s not a man of his word is what they said. As a result of this, you see, it’s the same old thing that goes on in the 21st century: tear the man down, you can tear the message down, and then you don’t have to live up under any kind of authority.
But I want to tell you something: the apostle Paul lived daily with such a clear conscience that their accusations had no weight against him. This is something that is so important. Several weeks ago we studied verse 12 and what it means to have a pure testimony. I hope you understand this: when you have a clear conscience that does not condemn you, the Holy Spirit not convicting you, then you can face anything. The accusations that come, and they will come, they just come and go, and you’ll go right on. You’ll continue to walk right on regardless of the unfounded accusations of others. The testimony of a clear conscience is an indisputable and an indestructible witness to the people around us. It is evidence that we are believers, regardless of the accusations that come against us.
The world, no matter how much it hates us, has to stand back and take notice of a person that keeps his head up and continues right on, focused, because he has a clear conscience, he has a pure testimony and whatever accusation comes his way that is unfounded does not bother him. Verse 12 says that’s just why he really starts it off this way: “For our proud confidence is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you.” Paul says this to the Corinthian believers. Jesus was being Jesus in Paul and that was Christ’s witness in him. That was evidence that he was who he said he was.
Now I want to ask you one more time before we get into the message today, I’m not meddling, I’m just asking. Is there enough evidence in your life Monday through Saturday to convince and convict others and to convict you that you truly are a believer? Well, let’s see some of the evidence, and these are evidences that normally you don’t think about. There are many more than what’s here but we’re in a context and a context is very focused. So I want you to see how Paul kept on keeping on as evidence of the fact that Jesus was being Jesus in him. I want you to see some things that maybe you’ve never thought of.
He kept on in spite of the fact that he was unappreciated
First of all is this: he kept on in spite of the fact that he was unappreciated. You know, all of us that are believers today know by now that not everybody rejoices when we become believers. And the hardest thing in the world for a believer is when he surrenders his heart to Jesus and nobody around him seems to appreciate him or the fact that he’s a believer.
In 2 Corinthians 1:13 he says, “For we write nothing else to you than what you read and understand, and I hope you will understand until the end.” When the Corinthian believers read Paul’s letters, even though they were very tough—remember this is the fourth letter he’s written to these people and this is probably the best one of all of them because they’ve been really tough—they had no trouble in understanding what he said when he wrote to them. You see, he didn’t try to impress them; he didn’t try to use big words whether he was speaking or writing to them. He just shared his heart with them. He spoke honestly and plainly. He never used methods that would in any way shut down the message he was trying to get across.
In fact, in 1 Corinthians 2:1 he said, “And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech.” Paul was a transparent individual; he might have taught the deep things, Simon Peter said that “Our brother Paul, he says some deep things sometimes, hard to understand.” He had a mind and he would take them deep and he would challenge them and he would stretch them, but it was plain what he was saying. They could understand what he was saying. He had no agenda at all; what he wrote and what he said was right there in front of you. What you see with Paul is what you have. He said what you read you understand.
I heard a person say one time, “Read the man’s life first, and then read his book.” They’d read his life. He’d been with them; they knew who he was. They knew good and well who he was. Now they could read his letter. But they understood only to a point. Verse 14 adds another thought, “just as you also partially did understand us, that we are your reason to be proud as you also are ours, in the day of our Lord Jesus.” See, they didn’t fully appreciate the apostle Paul. The phrase, “you also partially did understand us,” hinges on the word “understand.” The word “understand” in the Greek is epiginosko. And epiginosko means to fully understand, to fully grab something, to fully understand something. It’s not just to be informed by what your mind has comprehended; it’s to be transformed as you take what has been comprehended and act upon it.
You may understand it in your head but maybe it hasn’t made the 18-inch journey down into your heart. Now let me make sure you understand what I’m saying here. They could comprehend what he wrote. They understood that. But not acting upon it would then keep them from epiginosko. That’s fullness of knowledge. Knowledge is just something you comprehend; epiginosko is what you thoroughly comprehend having acted upon it. You see, one can read something and simply understand it but not appreciate it by allowing it to dig deep into their life and change their behavior.
The Corinthians understood what Paul said. They comprehended what he had said. Particularly his third letter that told them to deal with a man in that church. They didn’t want to do that: fear had gripped them. But finally they’re going to go ahead and act upon it, but right at this point they haven’t. They’ve only partially understood the message and partially understood the messenger. You see, they didn’t appreciate Paul for who he was. They didn’t understand the gift that Paul was to those people in their day. And so Paul continues to say that “we are your reason to be proud, as you are also ours.”
But then he says this: “in the day of our Lord Jesus.” Now what is he talking about there? Well if you look at the context and read on over in 5:10, he talks about the judgment seat of Christ. And he’s talking about this, and he talks about it in 1 Corinthians 3:13, the day when all believers will stand before God one day and we will be rewarded for that which we allowed Him to do through us, epiginosko, as opposed to that which we did for Him which may have come out of gnosis, but we never acted upon the fact that it was supposed to be Christ in us. Not what we do for Him, but what He does through us.
The apostle Paul says on that day, at least, it is going to be on that day that we’re going to start understanding and appreciating what God has allowed in our life. The people He’s put there and the messages He’s allowed us to hear. Listen, I’ve said this many times: if there are any rewards for me on that day, it’s a day of reward, not a judgment, we’re judged at the cross, but it’s a day of rewards. And if there are any rewards for Wayne Barber that day, I’m going to have to take most of them and give them to others that God has put into my life that probably when they were in my life, I didn’t appreciate them. But one day, in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ, I’m going to see them for what they truly were worth and I’m going to be proud of them as they hopefully will be proud of me. That’s what he’s saying.
The sad part is they just didn’t appreciate Paul in the day he was living. They didn’t appreciate his message, they didn’t appreciate his position that God had given him as an apostle. The Corinthian believers didn’t seem to get it and appreciate the gift that Paul was to them. Probably because he loved them so much he said the hard things that we’ll look at later in the message. But one day, one day they would. They only partially understood him at that point. They hadn’t acted upon everything he had said and they hadn’t appreciated the One who had sent him. But one day they would appreciate him for allowing Christ to do the difficult things through him.
But in the meantime, even though they didn’t appreciate him, even though he spends the last four chapters of 2 Corinthians defending himself from the critics and the skeptics in Corinthian, even through all that he kept on keeping on, and that’s the evidence that proves him guilty of being a believer right there. When people don’t appreciate us, and they won’t, write it down, don’t get bent out of shape, if your conscience is clear, your testimony is pure, you’ll keep right on keeping on and that will be the evidence that people will look on and say that person loves the Lord Jesus Christ. They’re moving on in spite of the fact that they’re unappreciated.
When I used to referee in basketball, I had an old referee tell me, “If you’ve got your head in the stands, which totally does not appreciate you, then get off the floor. You don’t need to be in the game.” And it’s the same way with a person walking with Jesus. You can’t put your head out there with people that don’t appreciate who and what you are. Let your clear conscience hold you up and keep on keeping on. The evidence that Christ is living in us, the evidence that proves us guilty to a lost world, is that we keep on keeping on even when people don’t appreciate us.
He kept on in spite of the fact that he was misrepresented
But secondly, he kept on; he just kept on keeping on in spite of the fact that he was misrepresented. Not only will we not be appreciated, but we’ll be misrepresented by those who hate the Christ in us. In verse 15 and following, Paul finally unveils the incident that had taken place that had caused his writing mainly the whole first chapter of 1 Corinthians. It was an incident. There was an unfortunate event that took place that they criticized him for and they told people he was not a man of his word: that he didn’t do what he told them he would do.
Paul had written to them in 1 Corinthians 16:5-7 and told them that he wanted to come to them on his way to Macedonia and see them. And then he was going to go to Macedonia and then he was going to come back and see them again. He was going to bless them twice. He had intended to pick up a collection that they’d been taking up for the suffering saints over in Judea. But he changed his plans. He had promised them he would come two times, but he got bad news. He had sent Timothy to them, and in 2 Corinthians 1 we find that Timothy is back. Timothy had come back and said, “Paul, I don’t think you want to hear what I’m about to tell you. It’s awful over there in Corinth and they are ripping you to shreds. They’re attacking your character.”
How do we know that? By the way he replied. Those who wanted to discredit him took this incident. See, what Paul did when he heard from Timothy that all this bad stuff was going on, he didn’t go to Macedonia. He went immediately to where he could sit down and write them the third letter that we do not have. Probably Titus took it them and, boy, he just scalded them in that letter. And for the fact that he didn’t come to see them, those skeptics, those people who hated him, spread the rumor, “You can’t trust Paul. Paul is not a man of his word.”
You see what they did? They didn’t even know the circumstance; they didn’t even understand why he hadn’t come. According to verse 12 they had accused him of acting out of fleshly wisdom. Fleshly wisdom refers to how the flesh acts and disregards commitments and disregards the feelings of people that are involved. Paul said, “I didn’t act that way. When I chose not to come it wasn’t because of some frivolous whim of my flesh. I’m not irresponsible in what I do.” Paul said it was his honest intention to come to them. Verse 15, “And in this confidence I intended at first to come to you, that you might twice receive a blessing,” two times he was going to go there, “that is, to pass your way into Macedonia, and again from Macedonia to come to you, and by you to be helped on my journey to Judea.”
Man, how those skeptics took that, accused him of being fickle. But they did something else. This is how they get to us. They see an inconsistency or what they perceive to be an inconsistency, not even knowing the facts, and they use that as leverage to tear down what he was saying. They said just as he was fickle in his choices, he was fickle in what he preached; you can’t trust anything the man says. So Paul is responding in verse 17, “Therefore, I was not vacillating when I intended to do this, was I?” It’s a question he’s going to answer. “Or that which I purpose, do I purpose according to the flesh, that with me there should be yes, yes and no, no at the same time?”
What he’s saying there is “You mean when I say yes I really mean no, or if I say no I really mean yes? You think that’s the way I am? Do you think I’m that fickle in my life?” The word “vacillate” means to be fickle or untrustworthy in something. And Paul tells them that his word is his bond. And Paul says, “If I tell you yes, it’s going to be yes.” And of course he’s including the fact unless some unforeseen circumstance comes about. “If I tell you no, I mean no. I’m not fickle in what I say. I’m not fickle in my character. I live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. My conscience bears me witness of that.”
But isn’t it interesting how quickly negative people are when they perceive an inconsistency in somebody’s life? When they don’t know the facts, when they’ve never bothered to sit down and discuss it with somebody, how quickly they will take that and use it against an individual simply because their own flesh has a problem with that person. And never give them the benefit of the doubt. I want to share that with you. People that walk in that spirit, I don’t care what they do, they can stand on their heads, speak in an unknown tongue, they can do whatever they want. It means nothing to me if that individual doesn’t love another person enough to give him the benefit of the doubt.
One of the first signs of a believer walking in the Spirit, he always gives his brother the benefit of the doubt. That’s why, like Paul, it’s very important to have a pure conscience when people don’t give you that benefit of the doubt. When you know that your conscience is not condemning you and the Spirit of God is not convicting you, when your walk matches your talk and you keep on keeping on, even though people don’t appreciate who you are, oh they will one day, and even though they misrepresent you simply because of a perceived flaw in your character, that is evidence that Jesus is being Jesus in you. Because you know why? Jesus had to do the same thing. And when He lives in us, He enables us to keep on keeping on when people don’t appreciate us and when people misrepresent us based on a perception that’s not even real.
He kept on keeping on knowing that he was being validated by Christ
Well, thirdly, you wonder how does a man do that? Hopefully you’re beginning to understand Christ lives in us. Here’s the real reason for the whole thing but it comes up in this point in our text. He kept on keeping on knowing that he was being validated by Christ. Our defense is Christ in us. And that’s a beautiful thing. That’s where our testimony comes from. Verse 18, “But as God is faithful, our word to you is not yes and no.” There’s no verb in the statement, but God is faithful. There’s no “is”. That’s a Hebraism. When you see a statement like that, that’s an unchangeable characteristic of God. And the word “faithful” there, pistos, means He’s true to His word. You’ll never find Him any different. God is always true to His Word. Now what Paul is doing here, he says, “But as God is faithful,” He’s true to His Word; He doesn’t say yes and mean no with it, “our word to you is not yes and no.” In other words, there’s no fickle meaning behind what we say. God is not about breaking His promises, so neither is Paul because God lives in him. The Faithful One lives in him.
Then he says in verse 19, “For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silvanus and Timothy—was not yes and no, but is yes in Him.” Hopefully we can get the meaning out of it. The message of salvation in Christ Jesus that Paul preached to the Corinthians would never change. Salvation would always be in Christ Jesus. Paul didn’t preach one day “yes, salvation’s in Him,” and then the next day say, “no, salvation is under the law.” And then the next day say, “yes, salvation is in Him.” Paul says, “No, that’s not what I did. Salvation is always yes in Him.”
The phrase “yes in Him” is in the perfect tense, which means it never changes, it’s always going to be that way and so Paul says, “My message is as strong as it’s ever been and I’m not fickle in anything that I do.” Verse 20, “For as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes; wherefore also by Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.” The promises of God refer to all God’s promises, but particularly the promises of the Old Testament, of the Messiah. Every promise God ever made, they didn’t have the New Testament, but every promise that God has ever made is found in Christ and is “yes in Him.” They’re all fulfilled in Christ Jesus. They are yes in Christ.
So Paul adds, “Therefore also, since they’re all in Him and they’re yes in Him, therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.” Bottom line, what he’s saying is Christ is faithful. God is faithful and God lives in me and every one of His promises that are found in Christ, they’re going to be yes. They’re not yes and no, yes today, no tomorrow. No. They’re all found in Him. “But that same faithful God that is faithful to His Word lives in us,” Paul says, “lives in me and therefore it’s a guarantee that I’m a man of character.” Because that’s who it is you’re dealing with, Paul is telling them.
As a matter of fact he goes on and extends that. He says Christ has already confirmed me before you. He says in verse 21, “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ.” Isn’t it amazing how some people just don’t pay attention? That if they just want to know if a man is faithful or have a man of integrity, just watch what God’s doing in their life. And that’s what Paul is saying. The word “establish” means to confirm. Paul says, “When I came among you God confirmed me in your midst. What do you mean I’m fickle and I’m not a man of my word?” And not only that, he said Christ had enabled him. It goes on and says, “and anointed us is God.”
The word “anointed” is not something mystical. It’s the empowerment, the enablement to do what God has assigned us to do. And he says, “Everything that I did in your midst, you didn’t attribute that to me. You knew that came from God. God not only confirmed me, God enabled me.” Then he also had been sealed by the Spirit. He’s talking about his own salvation that’s secure. But he has another meaning in this. It means “I’ve been authenticated in you.” You’ve seen the Spirit of God working in me, verse 22, “who also sealed us and gave us the spirit in our hearts as a pledge.” Not only a pledge that we’ll have eternal life one day, but that pledge is a guarantee that we’re of God.
Paul could have a totally pure conscience: he didn’t do anything of his own when he was with you. As he says in Romans, “I would speak of nothing except that which Christ has accomplished through me. And you saw it. You understand that,” he says to the Corinthians. They knew this; there was evidence in his life that proved him guilty of being who he said he was: a believer.
So Paul now calls God to his side as his witness. He said, “You want to accuse me? You want to come against me? The skeptics there in Corinth. I call God to come and take His stand beside me.” He says in verse 23, “But I call God as witness to my soul, that to spare you I came no more to Corinth.” Paul had good reason not to go to them as he had promised. See, they didn’t know this; listen folks, understand this in your relationships: always make sure you know the other side. Don’t let a perception cause you to judge a brother. You may be doing to him what the Corinthians did to Paul.
Paul said, “I had a good reason. The reason I didn’t come to you was to spare you. I’m not some egotistical minister that says because of how you’ve been acting you’re not even saved. That’s not what I’m trying to say.” Verse 24, “Not that we lord it over your faith, but are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm.” “Your position in Christ is well secured in Him. I’m not here to threaten that,” Paul says. “But I tell you what I am doing here. Your actions are not acceptable, and as His apostle and His preacher of His Word, I’m addressing what’s wrong in this situation.”
You see, it was Christ Who validated his actions. Paul said, “I’m not what you perceive me to be. I’m a man that has a walk with God and there’s evidence in my life to convict me guilty.” So the evidence was that he kept on keeping on when people didn’t appreciate him because he had a clear conscience. He kept on keeping on when people intentionally misrepresented him and presented a total different perception that was even wrong. But he kept on keeping on because he knew that Christ in him validated him. Do you know that today? Is that keeping you going? Is that keeping you moving on? It’s a beautiful thing to have a clear conscience. Your sins confessed up today, walking with God, Christ in you vindicating who you are.
He kept on keeping on even when he had to say the hard things
And that’s where missions start: right there. If we don’t have that kind of life, then what are we doing? No one can refute Christ working in our life. But the final thing I want you to see today, fourthly, he kept on keeping on even when he had to say the hard things. It’s interesting, only those who love you will tell you what you need to hear; not what you want to hear, but what you need to hear.
You see, Paul so loved these people who didn’t appreciate him, who intentionally misrepresented him because they didn’t like the standard of God’s Word that he’d preached to them. You see, he was willing to tell them the hard things. He so loved them he was willing to tell them the hard things. This was his way of sparing them when he wrote to them instead of coming to them. He had some hard things to say. There’s no telling, my imagination goes wild. What would it have been like if Paul would have gone there? I have a funny feeling there would have been some scalded dogs in that place. He would have come in and he would have hammered those people. He chose not to do that.
Instead he felt like “if I write them it will be better. I chose not to go because I love you, to spare you the sorrow that I would have brought to you. Instead I wrote to you. That’s what I chose to do.” And that’s his third letter he speaks of. Verse 1 of chapter 2, “But I determined this for my own sake, that I would not come to you in sorrow again.” Every time Paul had been with them it had been a sorrowful time because of the sin that was in Corinth. He said, “For if I cause you sorrow, who then makes me glad but the one whom I made sorrowful?” He didn’t want that kind of relationship. And then he says in verse 3, “And this is the very thing I wrote you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from those who ought to make me rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy would be the joy of you all.”
You know what he did? He said, “I had confidence when I wrote. I just really believed in my heart; I’m going to trust the Christ in you. And I believe you’re going to handle this rightly. I believe you’re going to respond the right way so that when I do see you it won’t be a sorrowful time the next time, it’ll be joyful.” Well, but it still broke his heart. I want you to see the heart of this guy. He hated to tell them the hard things, but he had to. Verse 4, “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears.” This broke his heart to say what he had to say. And evidently, we don’t have that letter, but boy it was tough; “not that you should be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you.”
“Broke my heart. I want you to understand. I don’t want you to be sorrowful because I was in tears writing you. I want you to understand how much I love you. That’s why I told you the hard things. That’s why you misrepresent me. That’s why you don’t appreciate me. You don’t like to hear the hard things, but I love you enough that I had to write them to you.” He shows that the one who caused him so much grief; there was an individual in that church that had started that whole thing. It only takes one. And others had gotten in on it. It had fallen on the innocent as well as the guilty.
You see, Paul’s letter was read publicly and the people that were innocent, they didn’t even know what was going on. They had to hear the same message that the guilty had to hear and he said, “I’m just so sorry that even the innocent had to listen to this.” And then in verse 5, “But if any has caused sorrow,” he talks about that individual, “he has caused sorrow not to me, but in some degree,” and that’s the same word “partially,” “in order not to say too much—to all of you.”
Isn’t it interesting how the one who refuses to let Jesus be Jesus in him, the one who will never give his brother the benefit of the doubt, the one who is always not appreciating that which God has given as a gift to the people, the one who intentionally misrepresents an individual based on a perception of a flaw in his character, isn’t it interesting how when he does what he does, he doesn’t just hurt the individual, he hurts the whole church? I wish all of us could come to understand that we’re not islands unto ourselves. And people that will not let Jesus be Jesus in them, like many that were in Corinth, were not just hurting Paul, they were hurting the whole church of Corinth. Nothing is done that doesn’t affect somebody else. It’s a domino effect. And Paul, God’s man, out of love for them was willing to say some things that they did not want to hear, and instead of going to them and blasting them straight out he said, “I’m not going to do that. I’m going to write to you because I want you to understand my heart: that I love you. So that when I see you the next time I believe you’re going to respond and when I see you the next time it won’t be sorrowful. It will be a time full of joy.”
Well, he shows, and we won’t get to it today, in verse 6 what they did and they did discipline this guy evidently to extreme. Paul said, “You’ve done enough.” They obeyed and dealt with the one causing all the trouble. They finally exercised church discipline which should have been done way before.
So far what we’ve got is the evidence of one who is convicted as guilty of being a believer can be tested out when people don’t appreciate him. He keeps right on keeping on when people misrepresent him intentionally based on a little bit of knowledge, a false perception, assuming it’s a flaw in his character. He’s a person that keeps on keeping on knowing that Christ in him validates him. He is his defense; and he keeps on keeping on even though he has to say the hard things to people that he loves.
Father, mother, have you been there? When you’ve had to tell your children stuff they didn’t want to hear? And they didn’t appreciate the fact that God has given you as a gift to them, and they misrepresented you because they didn’t like what you were doing? Trying to pitch mother against father or father against mother, but you had to keep on keeping on because you knew Christ in your heart was not condemning you. Your conscience was pure and clear because you have only the good things for the child in your heart, even when you had to say the hard things.
One of the beautiful things about this is there’s another evidence but it will have to come in the next message. You know what Paul says? “You’ve done what I’ve asked you to do.” That’s why he wrote 2 Corinthians, in response to their response to that third letter. They did, they responded right, they dealt with him. He said, “Now you’ve done enough, but I want to tell you, go back to the same individual, put your arm around him. Comfort him and forgive him and get him back on his feet.”
Isn’t that awesome? How do you know a person has enough evidence in him to prove him guilty of being a believer? Church discipline is not kicking him out of the church; Church discipline is restoring them to usefulness in the kingdom. But that’s our next message on what forgiveness and what Paul’s talking about is all about. So let me ask you the final question again today.
In the way you live your life, is there enough evidence, if you were on trial today at your job for being a Christian? You’re not appreciated there for being a believer and they constantly try to misrepresent you because they are jealous or threatened by the Christ in you, is Christ validating you? And are you even willing to share the hard things with them out of the love in your heart? Is there enough evidence in this congregation today out there, if we were put on trial for being a Christian, would be found guilty. If the answer to that question is yes, we are ready now to reach the world for Jesus. But if it’s not right in here, it’ll never be right out there. Missions begins right here in my walk with Jesus Christ. That’s where it starts and it touches the people around me.