Summary: Love’s priorities will not allow it to sit idly by and watch even when the action required involves causing great suffering. Love knows how to discipline best!
1 But I determined this within myself, that I would not come again to you in sorrow. 2 For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?
3 And I wrote this very thing to you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow over those from whom I ought to have joy, having confidence in you all that my joy is the joy of you all. 4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you. 5 But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent—not to be too severe. 6 This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, 7 so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. 8 Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. 9 For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. 10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.
12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, 13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia. 14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.
Have you ever received a letter that was really emotionally painful? I remember when I was 16 before I had rededicated my life to the Lord that I got a very painful letter from my mother.
At the time I was running with a group of friends who liked to talk about sexual experiences and now I know that most of them were lying about their amorous adventures, but then I was foolish enough to believe it and I’m ashamed to say that I made up a few of my own, just to try to fit in. (Is that the most foolish thing you ever heard of or what?) Well, somewhere during that time I copied a poem that a neighbor had shown me and carried it in my pocket for a while, sharing it with some of my buddies who were impressed by it. It was actually a very terrible, filthy piece of garbage that described in first person language a commitment to a sexually immoral lifestyle. I was in spiritual darkness enough to not only have such a thing, but to think it was cool. Of course I would never in a million years have shown that thing to my parents! Especially my own mother! But guess what happened?
One day I left it on my bed with some other things and when I came home and went to my room the first thing I noticed was that my bed was made up… That was unusual. Then I looked and saw it. There on the bed laying open was that horrible poem! Next to it was another piece of paper. It was a letter from my mother. My heart pounded and I know I flushed with shame. Then I read the painful letter from my Mom. It was written and placed there by the hands that had loved me and cared for me for over 16 years. My stupid foolishness had broken the heart of the dearest person on earth to me. The words in her letter were carefully and prayerfully chosen. My Mom said that she was very hurt and disappointed by what that poem said. She told me that it didn’t represent what our home stood for and it didn’t represent what she hoped and prayed I would stand for. She reaffirmed that she loved me and that she wanted me to live by the Lord’s standard and not this worldly way. I experienced a deep sense of pain and shame. God was using the words my mother wrote there to turn my heart toward heaven and away from hell. I believe that the painful letter my Mom wrote me was much more powerful than if she had called me in and sat me down to preach to me or punished me some other way.