Read the Bible in 2011 ◊ Week 19: Sunday
In Sunday’s Bible reading of 2 Corinthians 6–8, I noticed several contrasts. In chapter 6, Paul’s generous love as he laid down his life and gave of himself is contrasted with the Corinthians’ restraint in their affection for him. Hard to believe, isn’t it? He also tells them not to be bound with unbelievers and contrasts those who believe in Christ with those who do not.
In chapter 7, he contrasts his affliction of conflicts without and fears within, even mentioning his depression with the comfort he receives from Titus when he hears of the Corinthians’ repentance. He also contrasts godly sorrow—producing a repentance without regret—with worldly sorrow—producing death. Notice also that Paul is absolutely authentic about what he is going through and its impact on him. I thought of the quote from Francis Schaeffer that I used in Jeremiah 17–21: Discouragement & Faithfulness. Here’s part of it again:
“In Jeremiah 20:14–18, we read one of the great cries of discouragement in the Bible, parallel to some of the cries of Job. But the intriguing thing is that neither Job, nor Jeremiah, nor David in the Psalms (where David often cried out to God, saying, “Have You turned away Your face forever, O God? Where are You?”)—in none of these cases does God reprove His people as long as they do not turn away from Him, nor blaspheme Him, nor give up their integrity in their attitude toward Him. There is no contradiction here. It is possible to be faithful to God, and yet to be overwhelmed with discourage- ment as we face the world. In fact, if we are never overwhelmed, I wonder if we are fighting the battle with compassion and reality, or whether we are jousting with paper swords against paper windmills.
…“If you love God and love men and have compassion for them, you will pay a real price psychologically.”1
In 2 Corinthians 8, there is a contrast between the great generosity of the churches in Macedonia with the church at Corinth who needed to be reminded to complete their project of putting together a gift:
“Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.”
2 Corinthians 8:1–5
The standard of love and generosity is set, not by the Corinthian church, but by a man enduring hardship and distress as he poured out his life for others, and by impoverished believers who counted it a privilege to support their fellow Christians..
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1Francis Schaeffer, Death in the City, “The Persistence of Compassion.”
Original content: Copyright ©2011 Iwana Carpenter