Summary: What is God’s comfort, and how do we actually show it to others?
How to comfort others.
2 Cor 1:1-11. WBC 17/4/05am
Intro clip: live 999 call of Eight-year-old Hope from Heybridge, Essex, kept her cool when mum Melissa Cook suddenly gave birth to a baby she did not know she was carrying. From this week’s news
Letter written by Paul (ex Saul) about 57 AD to the Christians of Corinth and surrounding area of Achaia
- the mainland area of Greece, just W of Athens
- where Paul spent 1.5 years on his first missionary journey Acts 18. Where God said "I have many people in this city". C 52 AD
- this letter is some time later as in between this first visit and now there has been
o 1 Cor
o a painful visit and then a painful letter (2:1)
o … now: this letter
He writes because
- he’s delighted at their response. He told them to act in disciplining someone who was off the rails (not the incest of 1 Cor 5)… they did… and now Paul wants them to restore him
- he wants them to complete the collection they have started
- to prepare them for a forthcoming visit- where he hopes he won’t have to prove his apostleship (as they were doubting it because he wasn’t flashy enough)
… AND to help strengthen them in their struggle and suffering with what he’s learned and received
- in fact it’s absolutely fascinating. He starts this letter in his typical way: greeting, office, who it’s addressed to, praise
- but then, uncharacteristically, he launches into stuff about himself!
o He never does this! It’s always about THEM, elsewhere
But this IS about them. He’s got a story to tell them that will HELP them SO much
- and it will help us too. It will help us know how to find purpose and hope in our trials AND how to help others
Because we don’t always know how to comfort when someone is in trouble
- can feel just as out of our depth as little Hope
- hugely out of our depth when someone doesn’t just answer ’fine’ to ’how are you’
In fact- it’s far more simple and practical than we first think. And that’s a relief
WHAT IS COMFORT?
This passage clarifies some things about the nature of God (v3):
- firstly, He is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
o God is Jesus-like. That’s how we know what He’s like.
" Not from the world around us… philosophy etc
o … but because He revealed Himself to us in Jesus
o So- we know He is good
- Secondly: He is Father of compassion
o That’s right out of the Bible
PS 145:8 The LORD is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and rich in love.
- Thirdly: He is the God of all comfort
o Mentioned 10 times, here. So it’s important
Now, that’s more than just kindness… though there is a place for that
- we ARE to be compassionate and kind to one another!
And it’s not a ’comfortable chair’! You could be forgiven for thinking that in today’s environment!
- ’my own personal Jesus’. And ’pillow of ages fluffed for me…. to make sure all goes well for me’
- but we all know that is the ’spirit of the age’ and doesn’t produce the kind of disciples we are looking for. Doesn’t come up with the goods
the word ’comfort’, here, would better be translated- exhort, strengthen
- it’s the word paraclesis. Like the word ’paraclete’ used for the HS that the NIV translates ’comforter’- one called alongside to strengthen
o in fact: that is what the word comfort originally meant in English, but it’s been lost: cum (with) fortis (strength)
So- this is not about the kind of comfort that CAN be unhelpful
- makes people introspective, self-centred, needs-oriented..
- … dependent on US, even. Out of OUR need
- we are not to comfort others in that way!
God’s comfort… and the comfort we should offer to others is to make them STRONG. God and self-dependent. Both
- Jonathan helped David find strength in the LORD
- And there’s NOTHING wrong with being strong in yourself
o As long as your focus, dependence and eyes are on the Lord
WHY DOES GOD COMFORT?
Now- this is a revelation from this passage!
- understanding this will bring purpose and power to your situation
God doesn’t just come alongside us in trouble because He loves us and is compassionate
o If those were the only factors- He’d click His fingers and deliver us a whole lot more!
" Though He DOES do that, occasionally (V10 ’He has delivered us from deadly peril’)
" (sometimes we have to get desperate and cry out!)
His purposes and plans are a whole lot bigger than that- and He needs you to understand and be part of them