2 Cor.7.13-16 Reviving the Heart! Staying Positive in a Negative World
Reviving the Heart! Staying Positive in a Negative World.
2 Cor. 7:13-16
Pick up any newspaper or magazine, listen to almost any newscast and negativity bleeds through. They are filled with reports of another murder, accidental death, war in Iraq or Afghanistan, price of gas going up, another manufacturer cutting hundreds of jobs, etc. Rarely do we read or hear about the positive things going on in our world. It seems the media thrives on the sensational bad things that happen. That is what sells.
I think we become conditioned to think this way and expect only the bad in this world.
Titus was expecting bad things to happen when he arrived in Corinth with his letter from Paul. He had heard the negative reports, but Paul was an optimist. He was trusting in the Lord to work in the hearts of the believers there. So he reassured Titus that things would be just fine.
I have to admit that I am more of Titus, than a Paul when it comes to being a pessimist or optimist. so I need this message to encourage me to have a more positive outlook on life in general. I think it can benefit you to.
What we will see in this passage is that Paul is overjoyed at the response of repentance among the Corinthian church. He was concerned about how they would respond and how they would treat Titus when he came to them. But he was confident that the Holy Spirit would work in their midst.
There is a joy or freshness that comes about in our hearts when we discover that another believer has responded correctly in the reconciliation process. It is the kind of joy that was felt by the father for his prodigal son, or the joy expressed by the angels in heaven when one repents.
So what do we find in this passage that makes Paul encouraged?
What revives his heart?
Paul says "we have been caused to rejoice the more abundantly because of your comfort and because of the joy of Titus."
Why is he comforted?
1. Because Titus was refreshed in his spirit by you. They refreshed Titus. How so? Their show of obedience, their treatment of him, their open reception of him. He had come to them with some trepidation thinking they might be somewhat hostile to him. But such was not the case so he undoubtedly breathed a sigh of relief when he discovered their atttitude and actions were different than what he expected.
The word refreshed means to find rest or quiet. In 1 Cor. 16 Paul used the word to express his relief and joy at the coming of his coworker, 17 I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for i your absence, 18 for they j refreshed my spirit as well as yours. k Give recognition to such men.
Recently, I was trying to get my computer network setup at home. But I was having trouble making both computers work together. So I called Josh and he got me started, but it still didn’t work the way I wanted it too. So when Josh was home a couple weeks ago we sat down with both computers side by side and he got my network set up. His presence in working through this computer problem was refreshing to me. It gave me confidence that now we are going to accomplish something here and it is going to work when it is all done. That is what happened with Titus. His stomach was probably all tied up in knots, his mind in overdrive processing all the different responses and scenarios how his initial meeting with the Corinthians is going to go. But when he arrives and meets a warm welcome his mind is put at rest. He is refreshed.
Now, you see that is how we are to be to one another. Be refreshing rather than irritating. Be positive rather than negative. Be affirming rather than disavowing. Be like a breath of fresh air to others rather than like a stinking odor. Be the aroma of Christ to others.
Look for ways that your presence can be refreshing to others. Start to think positively, trusting in God, rather than negatively. Keep your mouth closed when you are about to share some pessimistic thought. Instead, resolve to only share some word if it is going to be positive.
Secondly Paul was comforted and joyful,
2. Because his boasting of you to Titus, proved to be true, v.14
“One reason of my exceeding gladness was that you fully justified that very favourable picture of you which I had drawn for Titus when I was urging him to be the bearer of my letter.” Is found a truth; literally, proved itself to be a truth. The Pulpit Commentary: 2 Corinthians. 2004 (H. D. M. Spence-Jones, Ed.) (172). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
Paul most certainly tired to encourage and reassure Titus, before he sent him to Corinth, that he would a get a good reception. Certainly, he tried to paint a good picture for him to encourage him to go. His picture of the Corinthians proved to be accurate. Thus, Paul is overjoyed when he discovers upon the return of Titus that what he said about how the Corinthians would receive Titus turned out to be reality. Remember, Paul was viewing the Corinthians in a positive light, trusting the workd of the Holy Spirit in their lives to use the Word of God to convict of sin and to guide in righteous living. And so it was.
Speaking the truth, being truthful is always the best route. Paul spoke positively and he wasn’t making anything up just to persuade Titus to make the trip. He fully believed in the work of the Holy Spirit to mature and grow those Christians and enable them to do things right in response to his call to repent in their dealings with this man involved in incest.
That is where we need to be in our walk with the Lord. Speaking the truth, fully trusting that God is able to complete in us what He began. So God is calling you and me to be positive in our talk about others, and to trust that He will completely work in their lives to grow them.
Paul was also comforted by them
3. Because he was not ashamed, v.14
Thus, Paul was not brought to shame, he was not refaced, disappointed in the Corinthians. Had they been hostile to Titus, Paul would have been chagrined that he was wrong about them. But such was not the case. Hence, he had every right to make boasts about them.
This resulted . . .
4. Because the Corinthians received Titus favorably, v.15
The received him with fear and trembling and he, in turn, was moved with compassionate towards them. In other words, their obedience to the Holy Spirit’s leading from the word clearly was evident. They received the letter, the instructions, they accepted Titus with open arms. They were genuinely glad to see him.
It is not easy to accept confrontation or criticism. But an indication of our spiritual maturity is demonstrated in our gentle response to those who confront us and call us to repent of some sin. This is also a way to revive someone or refresh their heart. Most of the time when I have to confront someone, I am not liking it very well. I don’t delight in conflict. I hate it. But I know that it still has to happen and if they respond right it will be better. The same is true when someone approaches me. My first tendency I can feel is to become defensive. But I have to consciously guard against that and genuinely listen to what they have to say and see if they might have a point.
So be careful, to guard against becoming defensive, give them a hearing and honestly weigh what is said. Then respond accordingly. That will take the pressure off the other person who probably has your best interests in mind anyway.
Finally, Paul declares that he is confendent in them.
5. My confidence in you, v.16
Paul is confident the Spirit of God is at work in their hearts and will do the work that is needed to train them and grow them. That is whay he prays such prayers as that found in Col. 1:9ff or Eph. 1 where he prayers for the strengthening of their inner man, that they would know the hope of their calling in Christ and the riches of their inheritance and the power of the resurrection in their own lives enabling them to be confidently growing in Christ, overcoming sinful habits, and mortifying the deeds of the body.
Therefore, he states, “I rejoice.”
Thus, He is comforted, and rejoicing because of the response of the Corinthians to his letter, and their good treatment of Titus. This was clear evidence of repentance in their lives.
What about you brother or sister? Do you make it your aim to make other peoples lives miserable? When I was in boot camp I had three drill instructors. One had as his purpose to make life miserable for us. He did everything he could to mess up our day: mess up our bunks, make us empty our footlockers in a pile in the middle of the squad bay and then give five minutes to get it all sorted out.
I think there are some Christians who are like that.
But then, after that mean DI had his way with us, the other DI would come in like a fresh breeze. He would talk with us and sort of befriend us and tell us it will be alright.
Are you like a fresh breeze? Or the stench that everyone wants to be rid of?
God has shown us how to revive our hearts. Lets git-r-done.