The Ministry of Correction
2 Corinthians 7
Correcting someone is probably one of the most difficult things to do especially when it comes to “relationship”. Correcting and disciplining are synonymous terms in our passage. Correcting a friend or someone you love and respect is never easy and sometimes comes out to the point of having conflict and long time argument and unforgiveness.
In our previous chapter, we talked about not becoming unequally yoked with unbelievers. Doing this has a promise, “…and I will receive you and will be a Father unto you …” Paul continue to admonish, “Let us clean ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” We are therefore should be concern on the sins of the flesh and our spirit.
In this chapter, we will be talking about the result of Paul’s correction. We already have discussed earlier that Paul tried to correct the Corinthian Church. He also did a “painful visit”. The first try seems to be unsuccessful yet later, Paul expressed his joy concerning the great news brought by Titus.
Correction was first and foremost intended to produce repentance. If it is not for repentance, then correction will be useless. In the passage, Paul previously made a letter addressed to the Corinthian believers in order to correct them from what they are doing. Such things include divisions among them, false teachers, malicious talks, carnality, etc. The letter seems to be direct and offending to the believers especially to those who committed sin.
On the other hand, there is no correction that is not painful. When someone tells you that you have to change, most of the time, it does can hurt. And sometimes it depends on how you respond to the correction. There are people responds violently, while there are those who respond maliciously. There are also people who responds positively where they take heed of the correction and thus, listening to it. Similarly, the believers in Corinth, responded to the correction positively thus, producing repentance. Verse 9 tells us that, correcting someone is not intended to make the sinning brother sorry, but to lead them to repentance.
Correcting someone should also not be abused. In our time today, there are people who try to correct everybody while forgetting that he or she has to be corrected as well. Paul also gave an emphasis on his credibility to correct. “We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one (v.2).” Please note that Paul is simply stating that they are not offenders themselves.
Sometimes inside the church, someone tries to correct almost everything. He sees all the wrong things inside the church, he sees all things that has to be done, but he himself is not and did not, and have not been involved in the church work. There are also those who feel like so mature and tend to become idealistic to which as a result, he or she tries to correct everything. It is therefore important that we first establish ourselves that we are not offenders of anything so as giving us authority and credibility to correct. Doing this will guard us from more troubles and undesirable disputes.
Paul in verse 10, mentioned two kinds of sorrow, worldly and godly. “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leaves to salvation and leaves no regret, while worldly sorrow brings death.” This is why if we are not careful enough in correcting someone he might develop a worldly sorrow other than godly sorrow. Worldly sorrow is characterized by unrepentant heart, or sometimes, even after correcting, the sinning brother does not look for God’s will.
After repentance, here comes reconciliation. Not all believers at Corinth offended Paul personally since some of them were only deceived. But rest assuredly many of them repented and had been sorrowful in what had happened.
“At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. So even though I wrote to you it was not on account of the one who did the wrong or of the injured party, but rather that before God you could see for yourselves how devoted to us you are. (v. 11 and 12)” It is obvious in this new letter that there is reconciliation between Paul and the believers in Corinth.
In verse 7, “He (Titus) told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.”
Reconciliation of relationships is very important among the children of God. Without reconciliation, God’s work will be pending and will find it hard to take another step. Reconciliation produces joy in the work. It helps each one to enjoy working in the ministry and working together hand in hand. And later on in our walk in this book, we will see that Paul is even able to collect some money.
Paul also mentioned about the “justice” that was brought forth. It was probably clarified for the first time since they had conflict with Paul that not all believers at Corinth turned their backs from Paul. Many of them remained and chose to be loyal with Paul and with the real apostles.
The other main lesson that we can learn from this point is that, there are times that correction helps us see the whole truth, just like Paul, after seeing the repentant heart of his fellow believers; he was convinced that these people remain devoted to them as apostles of Christ.
Reconciliation is just one part of showing and giving forgiveness, but the relationship probably has been severed. Sometimes, it takes time to rebuild the relationship that has been lost. But this is why we need to correct in order to restore the original relationship.
In most cases, just right before the conflict starts, there will be indifferences in the way we treat a certain person because of something that we do not like. In our passage, Paul probably heard the news that there have been some people who tried to discredit their hard work and some have openly turned their backs from them.
When relationship is destroyed or damaged, it is hard to go back to where it was depending on the personalities of the people involved in the conflict. But then again, if the correction is authentic and credible, recovery on the relationship would probably become easier.
Not only that there will be recovery of relationship among brethrens, but there will also be recovery of spiritual relationship to God. If you noticed, if someone sins and then he or she knows that he is sinning, and he is not willing to give it up to the Lord, he tends to separate himself and sometimes up to the point of not coming to church. This is because the sin tells him that coming to church is boring and condemning. And if one is not aware of this, he fell to another sin which is backsliding.
The main problem is, if this unrepentant heart will not be treated, it produces callousness. And the more that he is not willing to give up that particular sin, the harder it gets to come back to God. The worst thing that can happen is when that sinning person will try to justify himself from the sin that he is doing.
But correction gives room for repentance and spiritual recovery. It brings the sinning person back to his Christian senses. The following will be achieved in a successful correction:
- One will feel that there is someone who helps them.
- One will feel that there is a true friend.
- One will feel that he should be more watchful.
- It promotes accountability.
- It promotes restoration.
- It promotes love.
Correcting someone if done in the way fitting will help us achieve repentance, restoration, and recovery. It is not about confronting someone, but it is about loving someone. “Open rebuke is better than hidden love” Proverbs 27:5.
“The way fitting” means building first our credibility and authority. If we do not build it first, there will be chances that it will only create a bigger dispute. This is why Paul has been very careful and strong in emphasizing their credibility and authority to correct. Matthew 18 is one of the best ways to follow correction.