Scripture: 2 Corinthians 7:1-15
Observation: Paul demonstrates his deep love for the Corinthians, making it clear he wants only the best for them. He again refers to the previous letter he wrote to them, rebuking them for their sin. Although he initially felt sorry for the severity of his words, he realized that his harsh words produced godly change, leading the people closer to Jesus, which was his ultimate goal.
Application: In many ways, Paul was the master gardener of the Corinthians. His job – bringing the Good News to the Corinthians and encouraging them to be more and more like Jesus – wasn’t an easy one. Just as a gardener spends countless hours tending to his garden, Paul tended to his people. He spent hours with them – loving them, caring for them, feeding them the Word of God, and pruning them.
Pruning isn’t easy, but it’s a necessary part of producing a beautiful final product. Pruning can be frustrating, time-consuming, and depending on what type of plant it is, it can be physically painful. (Ever tried to prune a thorny rosebush? Ouch!) Planting seeds produces growth. Watering plants produces growth. Sunlight produces growth. Pruning produces growth.
Paul was willing to prune his people. He wasn’t pruning them because he took joy in their struggles or pride in their problems. He pruned them because he loved them so deeply and wanted to see them released fully into a relationship with God. The pruning produced growth.
“I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way.” (verses 8-9)
God doesn’t willingly inflict pain on us because he wants us to suffer. However, he loves us enough to allow us to suffer through our own sin and pain -- because there is a blessing on the other side of the suffering.
“Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such a longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong…” (verse 11)
Pruning doesn’t produce perfection, but it paves the path for growth.
What parts of your life need pruning? What areas do you need to lean into God’s discipline and his rebuke? What harsh words need to be spoken? Submit yourself to the Lord and allow the pruning to produce growth.
Prayer: God, I pray I’ll allow pruning to produce something in me that brings me closer to you. Give me the courage today to ask you to prune me. I pray it’ll bring about growth and change. Amen.