Difficult but Loving (2 Cor 7:8-9)

For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.” (2 Corinthians 7:8–9, ESV)

In my opinion, one of the most difficult things a believer must do is to tell the truth in love. Oh, it is easy to tell the truth when it is good news and will bring a smile to the one receiving it. It is nice to tickle the itching ear because people will always respond with favor towards you for doing so. For instance, if you tell someone how nice they are or how good they are doing, they will respond with warmth. However, it is not so much when you need to bring a rebuke. When you must confront an issue in someone’s life it can be uncomfortable.

In the pastorate, it is one of the things that the young preacher must learn. The temptation of the preacher is to shy away from the difficult passages that call people to deal with sin or to make a real commitment to the Lord. Once I preached a message on what it meant to take up one’s cross daily and follow Jesus. The next day, I received one of the nastiest emails from one of the parishioners. It apparently hit a nerve. It was not my intent to hurt anyone. No loving pastor wants to hurt a parishioner. However, every pastor is obligated to preach the truth. A pastor once told me, “A preacher must have the heart of a lamb and the skin of a rhinoceros.” He was right.

Paul was a loving apostle to the churches. When you read this letter, you can see it. Here, he mentions a letter that he sent to the church in Corinth. It was a stinging letter dealing with an issue that the church needed to address. After Paul sent the letter, he was troubled. He stated, “For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it.” He was torn because of the content of the letter. He did not know how the church was going to respond to his words. Would they reject Paul because of it? Would they reject his words and fail to deal with the issue? Paul experienced the genuine emotions that are common to those who approach those whom one loves.

Yet consider the options. To fail in pointing out things, the sin, that would take believers down a disastrous path (and all sin will do this) would be the most hateful thing one could do. It would be like letting someone step in front of a moving train when you had the time and power to warn them. The most loving thing that one could do is to warn another of their course of action with the hope of rescuing them from the path. And yes, it is difficult and often gut wrenching. Yet it is the most loving thing one can do.

This is not just an issue for the preacher. It is an issue and a struggle for every believer. Paul wrote this command to the believers in Galatia, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1, KJV). So, each of us can be a blessing by keeping people from straying onto a destructive path. However, remember that we are to tell the truth in love. Paul told the Galatians that they are to seek restoration in doing so and that they must do so with a spirit of gentleness. In other words, do so with hearts of compassion for the one who has strayed from the path of righteousness. If they are truly believers, they will receive the word and turn from the errant path.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: