Scripture: 2 Corinthians 2:1-17
Observation: Paul talks about his previous visit and how what he witnessed among the Corinthians caused him to send a difficult letter to them about their behavior and how they needed to repent. He encourages the community to forgive a man who caused trouble and insulted Paul himself.
Application: If there are two things that characterize Paul’s entire ministry, it’s honesty and compassion. Talk about #nofilter – Paul was straightforward, direct, unwavering in truth, yet he also had an undeniably deep love and passion for the people he served.
So how did he do it? In my world, honesty and compassion rarely seem compatible. The truth is often difficult, painful, and downright discouraging to face. Compassion is loving, empathetic, and full of grace. How can the two co-exist?
Paul shows us a model:
“I wrote that letter in great anguish, with a troubled heart and many tears. I didn’t want to grieve you, but I wanted to let you know how much love I have for you.” (verse 4)
It was difficult – when writing a convicting letter to the Corinthians, he knew his words would be hard to hear, that they would bring heartache, discouragement, and even outrage. But, he loved them enough to point them towards truth. His honesty was fueled by his deep compassion for them. Because Paul loved them, he told them the truth.
I wouldn’t describe myself as a naturally compassionate person, but it’s an area of my life that I’ve been working a lot on in the past few months. I’ve started to untangle what holds me back from true compassion, and I’ve learned that much of it has to do with a reluctance to be truly honest. I have a deep desire to see others feel happy and valued, and honesty can threaten that. Honesty can be risky and hurtful and bring up difficult truth that we can no longer ignore.
We can never have genuine compassion for someone if we’re not truly honest with them. Compassion flows out of loving honesty, a willingness to address hard truth and a commitment to help them grow. There’s nothing hidden, nothing buried, nothing left unsaid.
There’s only truth and grace, the bonds that holds relationships together.
Prayer: God, thank you for allowing Paul to love the Corinthians enough to speak hard truth into their lives. I pray you’ll give me the courage to be truly honest, with myself and with others. Amen.