As we continue in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, we begin to see the back story of the situation. In Paul’s first letter to this church, he was very strong in dealing with the sins of some of the members.
Later on, he sent Timothy as his representative, to see how things were progressing. Now we’ll see the results of all of this.
For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn — conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.
2 Corinthians 7:5-7
It turns out that Timothy’s report to Paul was better than expected. The apostle was greatly encouraged by the response of the Corinthian church.
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 — 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.
2 Corinthians 7:8-9
Paul’s joy was made complete because the Corinthian believers were brought to the place of repentance. This had to be done in order for them to receive forgiveness.
Of course, we don’t like this word. It has a bad connotation for us. In Greek, it’s the word metanoia which means to change your mind. It also means to turn around.
“I was wrong. I want to change.”
Repentance is usually preceded by distress, sorrow, or sadness. We don’t like these feelings. In our relationships with other people, we would much rather use a word like apologize.
“If you apologize, I’ll forgive you.”
The fact is you don’t really want an apology. The Greek definition of the word apology is to give the reason. In that case, you might hear something like, “The reason I did that was that I hate you and I want you to be miserable.”
What you want from the other person is repentance. It’s the same in our relationship with God. He already knows why you did it. He simply wants you to see that you were wrong and now you have a desire to change.
“I’m sorry over what I did.” (Godly sorrow) “If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t do it.” “I will never do that again.”
But we have to remember that with God, His forgiveness is given before repentance. It then takes repentance in order to position yourself to receive His forgiveness.
True repentance isn’t easy. In my next post, we’ll see how Paul describes the road to repentance.
Question: How quick are you to go to God in repentance when needed?
© 2020 Nick Zaccardi