Key Verse: “Godly sorry produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted.” (2 Corinthians 7:10 NKJV)
5-7 When we arrived in Macedonia province, we couldn’t settle down. The fights in the church and the fears in our hearts kept us on pins and needles. We couldn’t relax because we didn’t know how it would turn out. Then the God who lifts up the downcast lifted our heads and our hearts with the arrival of Titus. We were glad just to see him, but the true reassurance came in what he told us about you: how much you cared, how much you grieved, how concerned you were for me. I went from worry to tranquility in no time!
Reflection: (2 Corinthians 7:5)
Here Paul resumed the story that he left in 2 Corinthians 2:13, where he said he went to Macedonia to look for Titus.
Though Paul had many problems and hardships yet to face, he still found comfort and joy in the progress of the ministry.
8-9 I know I distressed you greatly with my letter. Although I felt awful at the time, I don’t feel at all bad now that I see how it turned out. The letter upset you, but only for a while. Now I’m glad—not that you were upset, but that you were jarred into turning things around. You let the distress bring you to God, not drive you from him. The result was all gain, no loss.
Reflection: (2 Corinthians 7:8)
“That severe letter” refers to the third letter (now lost) that Paul had written to the Corinthians.
Apparently it had caused the people to begin to change.
(For an explanation of the chronology of Paul’s letters to the church in Corinth, see 2 Corinthians 1:1)
10 Distress that drives us to God does that. It turns us around. It gets us back in the way of salvation. We never regret that kind of pain. But those who let distress drive them away from God are full of regrets, end up on a deathbed of regrets.
Reflection: (2 Corinthians 7:10)
Sorrow for our sins can result in changed behavior.
Many people are sorry only to the effects of their sins or for being caught (“sorrow” “which lacks repentance”)
Compare Peter’s remorse and repentance with Judas’s bitterness and act of suicide.
Both denied Christ.
One repented and was restored to faith and service; the other took his own life.
11-13 And now, isn’t it wonderful all the ways in which this distress has goaded you closer to God? You’re more alive, more concerned, more sensitive, more reverent, more human, more passionate, more responsible. Looked at from any angle, you’ve come out of this with purity of heart. And that is what I was hoping for in the first place when I wrote the letter. My primary concern was not for the one who did the wrong or even the one wronged, but for you—that you would realize and act upon the deep, deep ties between us before God. That’s what happened—and we felt just great.
Reflection: (2 Corinthians 7:11)
Paul affirmed the Corinthians for their right response to the correction he had given them.
It’s difficult to accept criticism, correction, or rebuke with poise and grace.
It is much more natural to be defensive and then counterattack.
We can accept criticism with self-pity, thinking we don’t really deserve it.
We can be angry and resentful.
But a mature Christian should graciously accept constructive criticism, sincerely evaluate it, and grow from it.
13-16 And then, when we saw how Titus felt—his exuberance over your response—our joy doubled. It was wonderful to see how revived and refreshed he was by everything you did. If I went out on a limb in telling Titus how great I thought you were, you didn’t cut off that limb. As it turned out, I hadn’t exaggerated one bit. Titus saw for himself that everything I had said about you was true. He can’t quit talking about it, going over again and again the story of your prompt obedience, and the dignity and sensitivity of your hospitality. He was quite overwhelmed by it all! And I couldn’t be more pleased—I’m so confident and proud of you.