Going to invite you to Second Corinthians 7. Second Corinthians 7 is where we’re at today. We’re going to pick up in verse two. We read verse one last week and starting verse two is this new section of scripture where Paul uses the word joy a lot in this section of Scripture, which is interesting because today we’re going to be talking about conflict, we’re going to be talking about relational conflict. And there is there are few things in life that are more painful than broken relationships. Relationships can just cut us deeply, especially the more personal that relationship is.
And one of the things that I have found just fascinating, even about the Apostle Paul, is when you when you look to the book of Second Corinthians, he lists several sections in second Corinthians of difficult things that he is enduring in his ministry. We talk about famine, imprisonments, beating, being homeless, being naked, being cold. I mean, he’s listing all these things that he endures for the sake of the gospel as he goes around this world.
But in second Corinthians, chapter 11, verse 23 to 27 is he lists a series of difficult things being shipwrecked. I mean, all of these difficult things he goes through, he ends the list of of all of those things he endures with this this final thought, which he makes it sound like, out of all the pressures he faces in the world, that this one thing is even more difficult than all of it. In the second Corinthians, chapter 11, verse 28, he says this, and apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.
As Paul endures, everything goes through in life, he’s saying. But, you know, the thing that weighs heaviest on me is my relationship with God’s people and all these churches around. And and most specifically, we’ve seen this in Corinth. Right? This is the church that was probably out of all the churches in the New Testament, definitely the most difficult and struggled mightily in being godly.
And so, Paul, as he’s writing this letter, this letter is the most personal letter Paul is written because he has to deal with personal issues as this church has has attacked him aggressively. And so when Paul thinks about all the things he goes through in living for the Lord, he’s saying to us, and it’s the relationships and the difficulty of relationships that cut him the deepest, that that gives him the the greatest angst within his soul as he tries to move forward with the Lord.
You know, one of the beautiful things about the book of Second Corinthians, I love how Paul presents himself in this over and over as people attack him, especially in the Church of Corinth. Paul doesn’t stand up and say, No, you need you don’t understand. You need to know how great I am. Rather than talk about how great he is, Paul leads from his weakness.
He says, You’re right, I’m not the most impressive person in the world. But but the Lord is great. And He shows us that no matter where we are in life, that it’s not because you’re great, that you’re able to do great things for the Lord, which I’m sure your parents think you’re wonderful. But it’s because God is great that you’re able to do great things for the Lord.
And because of that, Paul, when we look at him as this great spiritual leader for the Lord in the first century, Paul becomes more relatable to us because we realize no matter where we are in life, God can use us too. Because Paul didn’t lead from his strengths, he led from his weakness. which becomes even more important when we think about relational struggle, and especially if you feel like a lot of the relational struggle that you’re experiencing is partly because you’re to blame.
Or maybe the majority is because you messed up, right? What do you do when when you realize you’re in a relational tension? And and not only is it someone else, someone else doing something, but but also you have some ownership in all of that. How do you how do you respond in light of that? And so this passage becomes important to understand relational conflict. And I know that temptation sometimes as a look at a passage like this and to say and and if you live this passage today, you’ll never have any conflict again with the rest of your life.
I don’t want to over promise this, but but I can say this that that if you take this passage to heart and what Paul’s communicating and you apply what Paul says to us, it’s not it’s not necessarily going to make everyone else around you better, but it will lead you down a path of striving for a godly life, regardless of what other people might do, and gives you the opportunity to model what godliness looks like in the midst of conflict. So that gives other people an opportunity to mimic that behavior as well.
And as a church community, when we see what Paul is talking about here, when we make the choice to live this out, it creates a beautiful community in the Lord that becomes contagious for in a good way for the culture around us and the relationships that we experience in life. I know all of us, we think, you know, if I could find a place to to live for the Lord with no conflict and just joy. And I want to say, when I’m reading a passage like this today, if I can think of any church I want to be a part of and talking about this, it’s this church because for for whatever reason, for the duration of our history, at this point, God has just given us a wonderful body and a gracious experience in the way that we live for the Lord together.
It’s been a beautiful thing to be a part of, so I’m not reading this with any angst in my soul, thinking about the problems that we have had as a church. I know they pop up, but I’m reading this with delight and joy. Just thankful for a church that our tendency, our heart, has been to, to look to the Lord and lean to him and to see what God can do in our lives.
And I want it to stay that way. And looking at this passage, I’m saying, yes, we’ve been on this path and we want to keep sustaining in this path and allow Jesus to move in our lives in a way that continues to bless other people. And it’s a reminder to us that this this is the target. So we think this is in terms of of generally what is my posture as I move into this world, knowing that we’re going to experience adversity in relationship?
What is the attitude God desires for me to carry that will birth the kind of health that we desire in the midst of any adversity that we go through, through our relationships with other people. And that’s what Paul is saying here. So let me let me dive into this text. Navigating conflict point number one in your notes, is this genuinely desire the best interest of others, genuinely desire the best interests of others? And this is to say this before you’re ever in the conflict. This needs to be the attitude of our heart, because when we encounter adversity, relational adversity with other people, they’re already going to know the demeanor of our our posture towards them has been one to be about blessing their lives and not taking from them.
We’re we’re a person that is for them, not against them, that once their well being and we carry that well being in in mind for them so that knowing one day, a difficult day might come and they think best of us because they’ve seen the attitude that we’ve carried towards them. So, number one, genuine desire, genuinely desire the best interests of others and the best interests of others, by the way, is not necessarily always what they desire, but rather it’s what God desires for them.
Sometimes people just don’t even know how to fight best for their lives, and they may be on a destructive path. And so we certainly we certainly not don’t always want what they necessarily want, but we want what God desires for their heart. And this is not always an easy thing to do, because when we get offended, we typically react with our best interests alone. Our tendency sometimes is to be that way. We bottle up until we blow up. That tends that tends to be someone offends you and you sort of push away from them and you just stuff it down and stuff it down and stuff it down to you can’t take it anymore and then you just explode on them, right? And that’s not a godly way of handling anything. That’s not what the Lord calls us to is.
But it’s to to think and act for the well-being of others, regardless of really the circumstance. And you think in Philippians chapter two, that’s what Jesus attitude was towards us. Philippians 2:3, it’s that great passage and referencing Jesus who came as the form of of a servant, and he surrendered his life knowing that we were going to, in our attitude, crucify him. He never stopped loving. He never stopped giving of himself. He never quit opening the door of opportunity to be reconciled to God through Him.
Jesus continually laid down His life thinking about our our well being. Now, there’s certainly some wisdom to that. We’re not asking you to put yourself directly in the path of of getting injured or hurt. Right. And sometimes there’s some distance needed in order to bring about the best health of that relationship. But our our movement is always thinking about the well-being of of everyone involved. And you see this with the Apostle Paul. He’s demonstrating his actions towards Corinth really even before the difficulty arises. And it says in secondary in these chapter seven verse to make room.
In your hearts for us. We have wronged no one. Meaning he’s not treated anyone unjust. They have. They have corrupted no one. Meaning Paul’s not had a bad moral behavior. There’s a passage. 1 Corinthians 15:33. It says, Bad company corrupts, good morals. And so what it’s communicating to us is this idea that you show me who your friends are, and it’s going to demonstrate who you’re becoming, right? With the kind of people you’re around. And Paul is saying, look, I have not I’ve not wronged anyone. I have not corrupted anyone with poor moral behavior. And we have taken advantage of of no one. Meaning he’s not using people to defraud them for his own personal gain financially. He’s not making some sort of financial manipulation over the people for his own benefit, but rather he’s demonstrated actions of keeping their best interests in mind in his behavior. He’s modeled that.
And he’s saying to the Corinthians, now that they’re in some adversity, just think about my attitude towards you and all of this. I’ve kept a godly perspective in all of that. And verse three, he goes on and says, I do not say this to condemn you. For I said before that you are in our hearts to die together and and to live together.
And Paul saying, look, we’re not we’re in a difficult thing now and we’re talking about that difficult thing. But it’s it’s not because I’m trying to throw stones at you. Paul’s desire, even the adversity. Still to produce what God wants for, for the people. The part of the Church of Corinth. For God’s community.
Proverbs 27:6, says, faithful are the wounds of a friend. And I think the idea of a friend is so important to know that person is is for us. And even in this difficult moment, he’s continuing to fight not against us, but for us by going after the problem and not the person. For I said before that you’re in our hearts that Paul’s not letting them go. Even the difficult moment, how easy it would be for the.
Apostle Paul to be like, you know what, forget it, forget it. I’m going to another town, another city with easier people. Right? And he doesn’t do that. And because of that, not only not only do we see this reconciliation for the health of Corinth, but because he chooses to stand the gap, Paul is model not only for this church, but for all churches and all of God’s followers what it looks like to pursue a godly path in the midst of adversity.
To die together and to live together. And that is a beautiful word. Because typically the way if we were to write this ourselves, we would say this let’s live together and die together. Like, let’s from the beginning of our lives to the end of our lives. That’s typically how we would say this. That’s not how Paul says this. He says, Let’s die together and live together.
And this is healthy community because it’s it’s putting their eyes not on the individual, but it’s putting their eyes towards the Lord. Because what Paul is referring to is the calling of every believer. It’s saying, look, I’ve laid my life down for the Lord, and you’re talking about following Jesus too. But let’s do this together in order to follow Christ it calls all believers to to lay their lives down for the Lord as a community and pursue that new life that we have in Jesus.
We first die so that we can live. And it’s kind of communicating this way that really in Christ, we don’t we don’t die. The early church, their belief was, you could take my physical life, but I endure forever that the moment you lay your life down for the cause of Christ, you surrender yourself to Him. Your life is birth for all of eternity in Jesus. In fact, we call this the new birth or the new life in Christ. And it starts the beginning. You put your faith in Jesus and it continues through sll of eternity.
And Paul’s saying as a community, let’s continue to surrender ourselves down for that cause to God’s glory, that we can truly live as God’s people. As his church, his bride, which he calls us to do, to die together and live together. We are in this together.
And I remind us as a church often, look, the problem with our country today, it’s not a legislation problem where we need to create more laws. It’s a worship problem.
We probably do need some walls, but but it’s primarily a worship problem. It’s what’s in the heart. You can legislate law all day long, but you can’t necessarily transform the heart through that or you can’t transform the heart through that. There’s there’s only one way that that heart could be transformed, and that is to die, to self, to live unto the Lord. To realize that you’re not king, but there is one and He wants you to give your life to him, as he has given his life for you.
Paul is reminding the church in the midst of that, because sometimes when we face adversity, what we tend to do is internalize it and focus on ourselves. But Paul, genuinely desiring the best interests of others continues to put their hearts to the Lord.
It reminds me of the passage in Ruth 1:16-17. If you know the story. Naomi goes to a foreign land and her husband and sons all die. And he tells her daughters in law to go back to where they’re from because she knows her fate is likely not going to end well. But Ruth looks at her in love and says, Where you go, I’ll go. Your people will be my people and your God, my God. To lay it all down. To be a blessing to others, to the glory of God.
In verse four. Paul demonstrates his willingness to walk a difficult road at risk to himself. He says, I am acting with great boldness toward you. And I have great pride in you. I am filled with comfort in all our affliction. I am overflowing with joy.
Paul’s moving with this great boldness. And the reason he’s moving with this great boldness isn’t isn’t because of Corinth, but because of Christ. He knows, as the Bible says, Philippians 1:6, He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion that because He has the Lord, he always has hope, because there’s always, as long as we’re breathing opportunity for God to bring reconciliation to the destruction that sin has brought forth in our lives, that God can make all things new and God can heal what is broken.
And so knowing that and knowing that the Corinthian church is still open to communicate with Paul. Paul sees it with this great opportunity that gives him boldness to continue to move forward with the Lord, and he doesn’t give up on them. In fact, he has great pride in them, not because of them necessarily, but because of what he knows God can can do in them. And so he says this He’s filled with the comfort. And that comfort comes from from not from them again, but from the Lord, because he knows that God is still moving and God is still at work in all the adversity. And He’s not he’s not saying to us that there isn’t any obstacle, but he realizes that in the midst of this challenge. But God can still move.
Because of that, he’s overflowing with great joy in this affliction. This is not to ignore the problem. Paul’s not trying to be blind to the obstacles in front of him or to sweep the challenges under the road. Like Paul’s bold enough in this he’s he’s addressing the the issue at hand. That’s why he’s he’s written a letter to the church and he sent Titus. We’ll see in a moment to go talk to the church about their adversity, to the Apostle Paul and how they’re in a place of sin. Paul’s certainly approaching the issue, but he’s not approaching the issue to destroy the other person. He’s approaching the issue for what God desires to accomplish and all of his people with their best interests in mind.
It’s reflective of the gospel. That Jesus has come in the midst of our challenge. And Jesus has given us great hope in Him because of what he can deliver. Not because of us, but because of who he is. And it doesn’t prevent Jesus then in the midst of providing that hope to then talk about the area of our life that’s adverse to him, or maybe we’ve not surrendered to him ever. But because of the great hope that we have in Christ, we can face the the warring of our soul against the Lord, because we know that Jesus is for us. He’s given His life towards us.
Proverbs 13:12 says this, hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. As long as we have Christ. We always have hope. Jesus can transform the darkest of moments for His glory. And this is what gives Paul such incredible confidence, because he knows who is for him. He knows who is for the Church of Corinth. He knows who is for you. Genuinely desire the best interests of others. Point number two in your notes as this. Expect God’s greater reward. Doesn’t mean things won’t be hard. But certainly in it we can expect God’s greater reward. And Paul shows us in these next verses some of the struggle that he faced, but also focusing on the goodness of God. It says verse five four Even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest. But we were afflicted at every turn, fighting without and fear within.
Paul saying this story. Look, there was this battle that we are facing and it was in every area of our life as we were in Macedonia, both on the the outside and the inside. And some of you were wondering, what’s Macedonia? This is the region where Paul went on to Philippi and Thessaloniki in the south of Macedonia. You eventually get to Corinth. But if you remember in the book of 2 Corinthians 2:11-13, Paul talked about his internal struggle, where he sent he knew that the Church of Corinth was against him. He knew that they were at least some people in the church that were talking bad about him trying to get the church to turn on him. And so he wrote a letter and he sent Titus to Corinth.
And at that moment, Paul was in Troyes. He was he was serving in Troyes. And he sat there and he waited for Titus to return. He was doing ministry in the town, but he was waiting for Titus to return. And then he says to us in chapter two, but his mind was so fixed on Corinth, he couldn’t even focus on that town and doing ministry. And so what what happens? He ends up jumping on a boat and he heads to Macedonia. And even while he’s trying to minister in Macedonian vessel Lincoln Philippi, his heart still continues to think about the church in Corinth because his soul, his soul was battling for the relationships. He he couldn’t stop thinking about it.
And you know what that’s like, right? You go through conflict with people, whether you’re to blame or someone else. And it just on the inside, it just wars against you. And it’s a struggle to work through that. And the Apostle Paul is saying, that’s me, too. Because I care. And that’s you. Because you care. We don’t want you to not care.
It’s a healthy thing to care. In fact, I think it’s a part of our lives that even in that struggle, we can reflect with Jesus. Because as as we struggle in relationship in life, it can remind us of just how much Jesus went through that. We could experience that relationship with him. And now we have an opportunity, that challenge, to reflect the same grace that saved our lives in a tangible way, knowing what Christ has done for us.
And we expect God’s greater reward in it because it goes on in verse six and it says this. But God. But God who comforts the downcast comforted us. And He gives us a few reasons why. But he says, by the coming of of tiredness, it’s the first thing he tells us about what brings him comfort is first of all, God worked in a way that He brought us comfort through Titus. And not only that, verse seven, not only that, by by his coming, but also by the comfort which he has comforted. He was comforted by you, as he told us, of your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me, so that I rejoice still the more. And Paul is saying, God delivered us comfort. And He did it in a tangible way.
God looks after the downcast God’s heart is for the downcast. Because in that struggle, God sees us. God cares for us. God is about the healing of the brokenness in this world. Jesus came to fight against sin, and sin affects us first and foremost relationally. It affects our relationship with God. It affects our relationship with others. Jesus came to bring reconciliation from those broken relationships and to heal really everything eventually.
Paul, in this passage, he identifies how God delivers that comfort, and he tends to do it through people. And one of the beautiful things about Jesus doing it through people is that God has made us in His image. And we can become the tangible reflection of the goodness of God in the way that we live in this world. And God, he says in this passage, he he loves and the comforts, the downcast. And he says to you, If you expect God’s greater reward in this world, if you put yourself out there, God will give you reason to rejoice.
Sometimes we look at difficult things and we want to back away from that. But if we’re willing to continue to step into that for the Lord, God will give us ways to rejoice as we walk with him in the challenge. And this is what the Apostle Paul is reminding us of in this passage, and he talks about it in the Church of Corinth. He says, you’re longing your morning talking about they they’ve come to to recognize how their sinfulness towards the Apostle Paul has affected their relationship with him and ultimately their relationship with God. And so they’re in this place of of mourning because of that. But also they have this zeal, this zeal to move away from the brokenness and a zeal to live for what God has called them to, so that I rejoice still the more.
So Paul gets excited about what’s happening in the lives of believers as the Lord is transforming them for. Even if I have made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it though I did regret it, for I see that the letter grieved you though only for a while. Paul sounds crazy here, but let me tell you what he’s saying. He’s saying, Look, I wrote this letter and I didn’t want to write this letter, but I wanted to write this letter that’s saying, I know that we needed to talk about.
This, but it pains me to talk about this because I knew it was going to cause you pain, but I knew that the pain was for good. It’s like surgery, right? You go in for surgery, no one wants to. No one just signs up for surgery for fun. But you recognize that that that that that change can produce something far greater in your life.
And that’s what Paul is saying. I was reluctant to do this, but also at the same time, I knew what God wanted for our lives as his community. And so I was willing to step into that. Because I know that God would be with me through it, and we give us reason to rejoice on this journey. And so I stepped into the struggle. For the glory of God to the benefit of what God calls you to in Him.
A few years ago, I had a friend call me. He knew that I had become a pastor, and I think it probably shocked him. But he called me in and he asked me to just meet with him. He had gone through some some difficult things in life. And so I remember I visited him. He was from the East Coast and my wife and I were back visiting. And so I met him. We went out to eat. I took him out to eat somewhere and he started to share story with me. He said he went on to college and got a scholarship as an athlete and while he was an athlete, he he ended up breaking his leg in one of his sporting events and they prescribed him some medication and he ended up getting addicted to that medication. And that led him on a path of destruction. And he was just falling apart to the point where if something didn’t change soon, I don’t know that I would have had many more interactions with him.
But he sat there and he and he poured out his heart to me and he told me all the challenges that he was going through. And and as he communicated this with me, you know, you sit in those moments and you feel helpless. Like, I can’t I can’t be his desire to want to change and I can’t make his heart be any different. But but I know in those moments, too, I don’t have to be Superman because I already know the one who is. And so I started to tell him about the Lord. And we continue to talk about the Lord for a while. And I shared how it God had changed my life and I told him he could experience the same thing. And I remember after we got done eating, I took him into we were outside of eating in a restaurant outside of a mall, took him into the mall. We walked to a Christian bookstore and I’m like.
I started spending all kinds of money. I’m like, Read this, read this here, take this book. I’ll just take whatever might interest him and just throwing it all to him thinking, if God just uses one of these to save his life, change his life, let’s just give it all to him. Right? I gave that to him. And then about a year or two went by and all of a sudden I get a phone call from him.
And he tells me how the Lord used that day to lead him to. To him led this guy to the Lord. And from that moment, it has completely transformed his life. And now this individual has come back to the hometown that we’re from. And he has started an addiction wellness center. And not only as he started Addiction Wellness Center, he’s created some other businesses for those that come into that wellness center so they can have have a job again and find dignity and worth and value and meaning. And what God has done in his life at this point is incredible.
I would like to say and you know, it’s all because of me. Right. But I realized in that moment it had nothing to do with me. I was simply pointing to the one that could transform his life and seeing what God could do. It’s incredible.
And guys, when we go through a relational conflict in this life, I know how it is. You look at those moments and you think, and this is just unredeemable. But can I encourage you? Don’t be afraid to step into things that are hard. Because it’s in that darkness that God can do an incredible work. And when we understand that God is with us through that, we can expect God’s greater reward.
And that’s what Paul is saying here in verse six, isn’t it? But God, who comforts the downcast in the midst of whatever you want to say that’s so challenging in your life. Remind yourself of this phrase. But God.
But God who comforts the downcast. And because of that, even though Paul knew that the letter was going to cause a little bit of grieving, he still wanted to step into that for the well being of everyone involved, because Paul’s interest was in in the interest of everyone, not just himself.
But God, what can. Can you do? Point number three. Embrace godly grief, not worldly sorrow. Because can I can I tell you that of all the verses that we’re going to read and all the things that you might remember today, if I could just tell you for the health of your relationship with God and anyone you might communicate to from this point forward, it’s these couple of verses I find that probably make the biggest difference out of everything that I might say. You may find something else more helpful. But it’s these verses that really help us understand what it looks like for our life to transform before the Lord. Because sometimes I find people have this disconnect for what God truly desires in a heart that’s repentant.
And 2 Corinthians 7:9 says this as it is. I rejoice not because you were grieved while saying, Look, I wasn’t happy because you were in this place of sorrow. That’s not what it’s about. Sometimes that’s what we want when we hurt, we want other people to hurt, is if that’s going to make you feel better.
But temporarily, maybe you find some satisfaction. But in the long run, there is no ultimate healing. There’s still the weparation of relationship. And Paul saying, That’s not my attitude. Not because you grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief. So that you suffered no loss through us. And he tells us if we ask the question, okay, then what is God? The grief, he says, is for godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret. Whereas worldly grief, some translations say worldly sorrow produces death.
What is the difference between godly grief and worldly sorrow? Worldly sorrow sometimes can be mistaken for godly grief. And sometimes, as a pastor, I have to be a little careful. If someone calls me about a circumstance they’re in, they’ll some and not to put anyone on the spot. I’ll give this a very broad statement. But sometimes people will call me feeling broken over something they went through. Maybe it’s even something that they were personally responsible for. And they feel this sorrow in their heart and they’re trying to figure out what to do with it. And they they feel so sad about what it is that they did. And they want to just share that with me, because I don’t know who else they can trust to communicate. And so they’ll they’ll tell me that and they’ll have tears. And but but you start to realize that right after that, they begin to repeat the same pattern.
And you wonder sometimes what exactly was going on in their heart. Was it that they were sad just because they were caught? Was it sad because all of a sudden they were awakened to the fact that they had inflicted some pain on someone else? Or was it they were ultimately recognizing that their heart was at war with God?
It’s one thing to have worldly sorrow, which is to simply recognize relational adversity, or the fact that I feel bad that now I’ve been found out and oh my goodness, I’m embarrassed. You know, and you start to cry about that. But it’s more than that. When we talk about godly repentance, it’s to have the same hHeart that God has towards it.
It’s to realize that anything I do wrong in life is always, first and foremost an offense against God before it’s an offense against anyone else. And sometimes I share this with us, but we talk about if I go extreme and I say something like, for example, murder when we murder someone, if we’re if we have worldly sorrow, we can be really sad that we were that stupid and did that right. We can feel really sad that we got found out and got caught. We can feel really sad that we cause damage to another person. But in all of those feelings, that’s still not godly repentance. And golly, repentance is to realize the the reason I feel that this is wrong. The reason I feel grieved in my heart is because that life was made in the image of God. And God designed that person for relationship with him. And I stepped in and I eliminated that.
And therefore I have first and foremost been an affront against God before I have caused anything towards anyone else, because he is the giver of life and the sustainer of life. And by the way, that’s not just in murder. As Jesus said, anyone has had anger in his heart has murdered. Even our anger can produce a type of murder. It’s destructive. It’s contrary to communicating the truth of God, the love of God, and the grace of God in this world. And therefore. It’s always first an offense against God.
And so when we go through this period of grieving in our own heart because of our own mistakes that we make in our own sins that we step into in this world, we need to stop and ask ourselves the question, Am I grieving simply because I’m embarrassed I got caught? Am I grieving only because I know it hurts someone else? Or does my heart really recognizing how God’s heart feels about this? Do I recognize I’m accountable to creator God? But that’s a serious offense. My God sees everything I do.
Paul’s saying. Church One of the reasons I’m rejoicing is not because you’re grieving. I’m not happy because of simply you’re grieving. But I’m happy that in the grief your heart is looking to the Lord. And you’re seeing these things the way that God sees these things. Worldly grief. It. Ultimately, it ends in death. It never truly reconciles what’s broken. Because worldly grief at the end really just comes back to us. It’s about how I can hurry up and fix this thing so people might think better about me or I can enjoy them again. And it takes no consideration. Towards your relationship with God and how you’re surrendering your life to let the Lord lead you. Because when the Lord leads you, that’s where life ultimately is.
And that’s what Paul is saying, that when your heart for the first time surrenders to Christ. You’re given as a gift from the Lord as you lay your life down to him, as He’s giving his life towards you. When you come to Jesus, you realize he’s paid for all of your sins and you trust your heart to Him and you say, God, I am no longer king of my life but your king like you in that get life, you get eternal life. That’s what Scripture says. And eternal life starts the moment your life is surrendered to Christ.
And then as you continue to allow your life to surrender in that way, you experience life in Jesus. Paul saying that that is why I’m rejoicing. Because now you’re living as a church that not only is has found life in Jesus, but you’re continuing to discover that life in Jesus. And I will walk into the hard all day long so that your hearts may rest in that. Because through that all of God’s people are blessed. Embrace godly grief, not worldly sorrow.
Next point in your notes is this walk humbly. Walk humbly. Paul didn’t know that the church would respond this way. But when when hearts do act this way, verse 11 starts to tell us what happens. He says this, he says for four. See what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you? But also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment pull saying just consider because your heart.
Turning over to the Lord in this consider now the life that God has put in you, what he’s producing you. He’s this eagerness to to live a pure life and indignation towards what is sinful and destructive. A reverence, a fear for the Lord, a longing towards the things of God, in a zeal to move away from the things that destroy what God wants to accomplish, towards the things that God has called you to. And what punishment of of sin in this world at every point you have proved yourselves innocent in this matter. You’re walking in a life that’s transformed now. So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the one who did the wrong, nor for the sake of the one who suffered the wrong. But in order that your earnestness for us might be revealed to you in the sight of God.
And Paul is saying this, Look, I’m not I’m not writing this for for the offender, and I’m not writing this for the one who was offended. I’m writing this for what God wants to do in us, regardless of who you are in this matter. That’s what we should be about as God’s people. Living for the glory of God in this world.
I read an interesting quote yesterday was talking about the will of God. Someone said. So many people ask the question, What is God’s will for my life? We get fixated on that. We sometimes feel overwhelmed by that. They tend to describe the difference of of discovering God’s will, the difference. Between a dot in a circle.
Like sometimes people ask, what is God’s will for my life? As if you’re looking for this dot, but rather God’s will for your life is more like a circle in how we’re to live for His glory, no matter where we are in this world. How we’re to respond and living in light of Christ, no matter where we are in our jobs, our relationships, like what’s the next step? And he said this, he said, We tend to ask the question, what is God’s will for our lives? And it’s very me centric, but rather we should ask the question this way: How can I surrender my life to live out God’s will?
So take the attention off yourself. And not ask the question How can I? What is God’s will for my life but rather put the attention on Him? How can I how can I surrender my life to live for God’s will for this world? And Paul is showing us here. And this idea of. Of walking humbly in the way that he’s presented himself. He’s saying in verse 12, Look. My heart has not been for one person or another. My heart has been for all of us. What God can do for all of us. It’s a it’s a selfless picture. Jesus. How can you move?
And it’s to understand, even when we go through conflict in this world, we don’t need to come in with a sledgehammer and the way that we communicate, in fact. And second, Timothy, chapter two, verse 25, it says this, Instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance, leading to the knowledge of the truth.
I’m here to prove we’re right and other people are wrong. I’m not here to beat people up. We’re here to act in grace according to Christ, that that we may walk in the truth as his community, as we surrender ourselves to what God calls us to, with a willingness to step into things that are even hard knowing that God’s presence is there. And then the last point is to say this. Everyone. Everyone can be better off for it.
And you see this in verse 13, it says, Therefore, we are comforted plural. All of us were comforted, we are comforted. And besides our own comfort, we rejoice still more at the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you. So not only is Paul saying, look, not only did I step we’re willing to step in this for your sake. Now you’ve reciprocated. And so because of that, we’re all blessed. But not only are we all blessed now we’ve modeled for Titus what it looks like in the midst of adversity to step into Jesus as a community. And now Titus is encouraged and excited about what God is doing, which is why I say to us in the beginning, Look, when we look at a text like this, I can’t promise you every relationship will be perfect for the rest of your life. That would certainly be an oversell. But I can say to this that if you live this out according to the way Paul is communicating this, you can model what godly behavior looks like in the midst of relational conflict. And through that, everyone else is better off for it.
You’re not accountable for what other people do. But you are accountable for what you do. And when you live for Jesus to bless the people in this world. This world is better off for it. Because his spirit has been refreshed by all verse 14 for whatever boast I made to him about you. I was not put to shame, but just as everything was we said to you was true. So also our boasting before Titus was has proved true, and his affection for you is even greater as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling. I rejoice because I have complete confidence in you. And again. Why? Because God. God.
As long as we have breath, there’s always the opportunity for God to do something glorious. Paul’s confidence is not primarily driven by the people, but the Lord who transforms the heart. Because Paul was willing. The Church reciprocated. And as the church responded to the grace shown to them through the Apostle Paul, which was ultimately a model of Jesus, other people are blessed to. Why is that important for us? It’s important because we don’t have to take a poll this morning. I know, because you’re breathing somewhere in your life, you have relational conflict. I don’t care if it’s distant or close to you. We experience no matter where we are.
But at the same time, we need to recognize it is an opportunity. Because our human nature sometimes is to internalize it. And we start to respond in self and we bottle it up and then until we can’t take it anymore, we blow up. You know what I think about? The sin and the consequences of sin in this world. It’s an important time to reflect also in the beauty of what the gospel does and how it transforms. As Jesus was willing to lean into the hard thing for us by surrendering his life that we could find life in him. So we have an opportunity.
Let me close it with this illustration, there was a painting made by Rembrandt. I love Rembrandt. He would oftentimes paint himself in his own paintings, and he painted stylistically in a way that was different than the way most most people painted. During his era of time, which was in the 1600s, he tended to paint people, especially scenes, biblical scenes, not with this radiated glory, like if you go back and look in in ancient times, starting even from first century on into Rembrandt’s time, when people painted biblical stories, they would often illuminate it with bright colors. And Rembrandt didn’t. He just he made it plain, he made it realistic, and he would always put himself in the picture as if he was relating to it.
He painted this one picture called The Night Watch. And The Night Watch was about he was if anyone he was he was Dutch. And so if anyone attacked his area, it was a picture of those who would stand up as heroes within his town to defend to defend that town with honor. And so he painted the night watch. And it was a it was a large painting. It took him a few years to do it. But one day in the museum in Amsterdam, someone came in with a knife. And they attacked the painting and they cut it all up. You see some of the scars there on the bottom. When something like that happens, the destruction, you’re left with a question, right? What do you do? Well, they certainly had the opportunity here to just rip it off. Let’s go find a better painting. I guess this one’s done all right. It’s been messed up. We got to just find something else and start over.
But they knew the value of this painting. And so then, rather than get rid of it, they decided to restore it. It was an important piece. It was a reflection of the people. They knew Rembrandt’s were priceless. And so they were willing to put in the work. To see it once again perfected.
Guys, when I think about the gospel, that is the story. We go through hard things, especially in relationship. What do we do? We can just toss it all aside and say, forget it. Right? But then you remember the gospel. People are worth it. Why? Because Jesus gave his life for them. So that what is destroyed. What sin is affected. It can be made. It can be restored. If a heart would be willing to embrace. That worldly sorrow. Godly grief. For repentance. If we would walk humbly. If we would step into the hard for the benefit of others. God can do incredible things if we would just lay down our lives for him.
This passage is encouraging for us. Because all of us, all of us have some adversity going on in our lives. And we need reminded of the beauty of Jesus. Let me just ask you. Where are you in your relationship with God? Have you surrendered your heart to him? Have you taken yourself upon the throne, off the throne of your life? And. And ask Christ to take that throne for you. To lead you. Have you gotten to a place where maybe you’ve trusted Jesus in that way, but you recognize that you’ve got some relational tension in your world. And you’ve stepped on that throne and you’re just living for yourself, and you desire people to go through grief only because you want them to hurt.
Are you willing, with an open hand, to trust it to the Lord? To get off the throne. And to recognizes it told us in verse six. But God. God’s concern is for the downcast. And are you willing just to get out of the way to let the Lord work in you and through? To surrender yourselves. When our heart leans that way. God does a beautiful thing. In fact, let me just end with this verse. It’s a beautiful picture. In the second Peter, chapter three, verse 12 is to remind us that God, God is not a God that destroys things, but he is a God who wants to make all things new. Second, Peter, chapter three, verse 12, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning and the elements will melt with intense heat. But according to his promise, we are looking for new heavens and new earth in which righteousness dwells.
This is a little difficult passage to translate, and some people, when we read this, sometimes we often think God’s going to make all things new. New heavens, new earth. We often read this and think God is just going to blow it all up and start over. And that’s that’s not the way the Greek text actually reads. What it says is God is going to purify it with an intense heat. God will melt away the imperfections of Earth and the heavens. And God is going to recreate it. He doesn’t totally annihilate anything. Not you. Not me. But rather what he wants to do is a new creation and all of it. Take what’s broken. Remove it and build within it. Something beautiful, something new. And we have the opportunity to reflect that in the gospel and the way that we live.