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Monday, April 6, 2015

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In the beginning of chapter 7 Pastor Paul wraps up his defense of his apostolic ministry. He appeals to the readers to avoid “anything that contaminates our body or spirit so that we make our holiness complete in the fear of God” (vs. 1). He furthermore reminds them of what are appropriate actions (vs. 2b) and of the close bond he shares with them (vs. 3), and expresses hope and encouragement (vs. 4).

In the rest of the chapter (vs. 5-16) Paul returns to his narrative about why he changed his travel plans. (That change of itinerary had led to the conflict with the church members in Corinth.) This portion of the letter is deeply personal as he delves into the emotional impact of his previous letter. “Even though my letter hurt you, I don’t regret it” (vs. 8). Such confrontation in this instance provided an opportunity to change hearts and lives (vs. 9).

Repentance is the act of turning away from sin. “Godly sadness,” admonishes Paul, “produces a changed heart and life that leads to salvation and leaves no regrets, but sorrow under the influence of the world produces death.”

So how do we deal with someone who has sinned? In this second epistle the person “who did wrong” is not identified. Earlier Paul had reminded believers in Corinth to forgive this person (2 Cor. 2:5-8). Ellen White reminds us that as Christians we have a responsibility to avoid a critical attitude: “It is easy to speak against the fault and errors of others and in general terms condemn this and that, but do you ever think that this is the work the enemy is always doing? . . . How much rest and peace and happiness have you found in dwelling upon the imperfections of your brethren? . . . Has not your faith been weakened and your discernment obscured? Your soul has become more and more destitute of the grace of God” (Letter 48, 1893).

Paul himself sets the example by trying to be a source of encouragement (vs. 13). Their good works have shown that their faith is genuine. “I’m happy,” notes Paul, “because I can completely depend on you” (vs. 16).

Michael Campbell