Friday, 12 June 2015
For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you. 2 Corinthians 2:4
In the previous verse, Paul noted that he had written to the Corinthians rather than visited them in order to avoid sorrow in the encounter. Now he shows them the level of sorrow that he had already felt, simply by writing. He says that “out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you.”
This shows the depth of the sorrow and pain that he possessed for needing to correct their faulty doctrine and tolerance of sin. He says he suffered “affliction.” This is a strong word indicating “tribulation.” It is used throughout the New Testament to indicate persecution or severe trials.
The word translated as “anguish” is sunoché. It is used only twice in the New Testament and conveys the idea of distress, anguish, or anxiety. Its only other use is in Luke 21:25, translated as “distress” –
“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring…”
This word, according to Albert Barnes, “means, properly, ‘a holding together or shutting up’; and then, ‘pressure, distress, anguish’ – an affliction of the heart by which one feels tightened or constrained; such a pressure as great grief causes at the heart.”
Understanding this, we can see the true depth of Paul’s sorrow for the confrontation that was needed via his pen. It came through “many tears,” but he notes to them that those tears were “not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you.” Having conveyed these words to them, they should now understand the full weight of the words of the previous verse.
If he had come under such circumstances, already sorrowful to this extreme state, then when they were made sorrowful through the correction they needed, everyone would be sorrowful. There would be no one to comfort anyone else. Rather than such a difficult meeting, he felt it best that he would write, let them absorb his instruction, and then come to them at a later time.
Life application: Again, we can learn much from Paul’s example. He had the best intent for the individual situation in mind. If a personal encounter would be unproductive or counter-productive, then he knew that a letter would instead be the better choice. Rushing into face-to-face discipline is not always the best means of handling a situation.
Lord, today I pray for wisdom in how I handle my interactions with others, especially when sadness or difficulties could arise from them. Help me to know when to call, when to write, and when to make a personal visit. And in whichever situation is needed, help my words to be graceful and salted with only the truth. Give me courage in my convictions to never let doctrine be set aside for the sake of tolerance; something sorely needed in this world today. Thank You Lord. Amen!