Friday after the Eighth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 2:1—3:3 (NKJV)
2:1 But I determined this within myself, that I would not come again to you in sorrow. 2 For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me? 3 And I wrote this very thing to you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow over those from whom I ought to have joy, having confidence in you all that my joy is the joy of you all. 4 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.
5 But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent—not to be too severe. 6 This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, 7 so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. 8 Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. 9 For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. 10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.
12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, 13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia.
14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.
3:1 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? 2 You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.
From Paul’s words it seems that the Corinthians were a bit unhappy with him for changes he had made in his plans. He wasn’t doing or saying all the things they wanted him to. So he finds himself here, as in other epistles, defending his ministry to those who should have needed no such defense, for they owed their very salvation to him as the instrument God used to bring them to faith. They were “an epistle of Christ, ministered by us.”
Paul explains what all true ministers are, and what God’s people should expect them to be: the fragrance of Christ, “diffusing the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” Ministers are to represent Christ accurately before the world, teaching the Law sternly and preaching the Gospel boldly. They are to sound like Jesus, act like Jesus, love like Jesus, and proclaim the truth of Jesus. This is the very thing Paul did everywhere he went, and as the book of Acts reveals repeatedly, to some his message was the aroma of life leading to life, whereas to many his message was the aroma of death leading to death. If Paul had peddled the Christian religion by adulterating it, making it more palatable to people by preaching what they wanted to hear, he would have pleased more people. But then he wouldn’t have been a Christian minister.
Insist that, in all things, your pastor speak nothing but the truth of Christ. Expect it of him. And thank God if He has given you a pastor who is not a peddler.
We pray: O Father in Heaven, help all Your servants to speak the truth with sincerity, and make us ever ready to hear it and to rejoice in it. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.