Daily D – 2 Corinthians 7:4
I have the highest confidence in you, and I take great pride in you. You have greatly encouraged me and made me happy despite all our troubles. 2 CORINTHIANS 7:4 (NLT)
Just as hurt people hurt people, easily offended people easily offend people.
The Gifted and Talented Church was one you might also call High Maintenance. Read 1 and 2 Corinthians all the way through in one sitting sometime. Those people seemed to specialize in the dramatic. Since some of them thought they were smarter than God (1 Corinthians 1-4), they tended to run ahead before a proper path was marked off for them. Their best exercise was jumping to conclusions. Paul made it clear to them that intelligence and enthusiasm were nothing compared to wisdom and power (1 Corinthians 1:20ff.; 4:20).
Paul’s patience with this church was remarkable and exemplary. For all the problems they had, for everything Paul had to correct, he remained delighted in who they were becoming in Christ. Listen to what he says: “I have the highest confidence in you.” How? I would have thrown in the towel a long time ago. Paul expected problems. If we were to summarize his philosophy in working with this church full of recently former pagans, it might be, “Why should we be surprised when sinners sin?”
As you read 1 Corinthians, you notice how he addresses a list of issues presented to him by some of the members. Rather than throw his hands up and consider them irredeemable, he clearly defined the problem and just as clearly provided God’s solution. This church, to its credit, kept making course corrections. Some were easier than others. Some took more time. Some solutions hurt feelings and made continuing relationships challenging.
Paul said, “I take great pride in you.” He looked not at the starting place, and not at their current status, but at their trajectory. They were on the right path. He did not expect perfection. He applauded progress.
“You have greatly encouraged me,” Paul said. More meaningful progress delights pastors, parents, and teachers. He said, you have “made me happy despite our troubles.” Paul did not allow problems to break the relationship. He expected them. He patiently instructed wayward members regarding what was wrong and how to make corrections.
You are having problems with someone. No one gets along with everyone equally well. What if you adopted Pauls’s disposition and methodology? What would that include?
- Express confidence.
- Take delight in progress.
- Do not give up on people when they offend you.
- Speak the truth in love.
- Love without limits.
Most of all, be hard to offend. This may be the most important thing we can master in a season of pandemic, protest, and politicking.
I will be hard to offend.
Our Father, deliver me from indignation, no matter how righteous it may feel. Empower me to focus on what is right rather than what is wrong. Empower me to applaud what good behavior I discover despite the challenges. Give me such a patient and kind nature that I never give up too soon on those who push me to the limits. Amen.
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Ruth 1:20, 21 “Don’t call me Naomi. Call me Mara,” she answered, “for the Almighty has made me very bitter. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has opposed me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?” (CSB)