From Sorrow to Joy

Key Verse: “Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.”
—II Cor. 2:14, New International Version

Selected Scripture:
II Corinthians 2:4-17

THE APOSTLE PAUL established the Church at Corinth at the conclusion of his second journey, together with Timothy and Silas. He spent two years with them before leaving to go to Jerusalem. Enroute to Jerusalem he made a stop at Ephesus, and though the Jews wanted him to stay, he could not, but promised to return.

He did return on his third journey, after visiting other congregations that he had established on his first journey. While at Ephesus, news from Corinth reached him through the family of Chloe, of the divisions and problems that had arisen in the church at Corinth, causing Paul to write a letter severely admonishing them.

After he sent that letter he had concerns that he may have been too harsh, and a personal explanation might help. Matters in Ephesus were so pressing, he could not go to Corinth as much as he wanted to. Paul did the next best thing, and sent Titus to see what the reaction was to his letter. Finally, after anxiously waiting months, Titus came and gave a good report on how well the brethren had received his admonitions. The second letter to the Corinthians expresses the satisfaction Paul had in learning how well they had received his letter of correction.

There was one person in particular who was involved in an immoral situation, and apparently when called to the church’s attention the majority agreed with Paul, and had taken positive action. So writing to them again, he said: “I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you. If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him.” (II Cor. 2:4-6, NIV) Rather than punish the brother more, he recommended, “Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.”—vs. 7, NIV

There are many experiences that we all encounter on our Christian journey in which great wrongs are committed. If true repentance is manifested when the matter is called to the offender’s attention, we must be ready to forgive and comfort. Otherwise we fall prey to the wiles of Satan’s devices. Paul reminded the Corinthian church (and us) that we are not ignorant of Satan’s devices. (vs. 11) Satan can exert a powerful influence on our decisions if we permit him to do so. By standing up for the correct principles and being ready to forgive the repentant errant ones, we become as a “sweet savour” (fragrance) unto God.—vs. 15

This expression is reminiscent of the incense on the golden altar in the Holy of the Tabernacle, representing the obedience of the saints. The obedience manifested during fiery trials can be likened to the perfume generated as incense comes in contact with the fiery coals. How glad we are that the Father stands ready to forgive through the blood of his Son and that we can express our joy in prayer to him.—Rev. 8:3

Dawn Bible Students Association
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