Have you ever had to say something to someone you cared about yet you knew that it would hurt them? Sometimes people avoid such situations yet, when someone is involved in something that is sinful and they need to change, do we have a choice?
Although it is difficult, we realise it really is the loving thing to do, even if it initially produces hurt. We are not trying to hurt the other person but to bring them to the point they can see the situation they are in and do something to correct it and get back to walking with the Lord.
Paul had this type of situation with the Christians in Corinth.
“Even though my letter hurt you, I don’t regret it. Well—I did regret it just a bit because I see that that letter made you sad, though only for a short time. Now I’m glad—not because you were sad but because you were made sad enough to change your hearts and lives. You felt godly sadness so that no one was harmed by us in any way. Godly sadness produces a changed heart and life that leads to salvation and leaves no regrets, but sorrow under the influence of the world produces death. Look at what this very experience of godly sadness has produced in you: such enthusiasm, what a desire to clear yourselves of blame, such indignation, what fear, what purpose, such concern, what justice! In everything you have shown yourselves to be innocent in the matter.” (2 Corinthians 7:8-11 CEB)
Most can relate to what Paul went through after writing his letter to those in Corinth. He knew it was going to hurt them to hear what needed to be said. Initially he did regret it some, just as anyone who has to say something to someone that could hurt them. But he made the right decision to send the letter to them. It brought them to make changes that were needed.
The sorrow that is produced when someone points out what we are doing that is wrong can be good or bad. Paul referred to these as ‘godly sadness’ and ‘sorrow under the influence of the world’. The latter is when someone is caught out. They are sorry that they got caught but not sorry enough to change what they are doing. Usually people in this situation lash out at those who have pointed out what they are doing. We even hear them attempt to condemn those who are trying to help: “Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged” (Matthew 7:1) while ignoring other verses like “Don’t judge according to appearances. Judge with right judgment” (John 7:24).
Godly sadness, on the other hand, produces the changed heart and the changed life that will put them back on the path toward salvation. Godly sorrow leaves no regrets. When we have to say something to someone involved in sin and there is change, it brings encouragement to all.
“So although I wrote to you, it wasn’t for the sake of the one who did wrong, or for the sake of the one who was wronged, but to show you your own enthusiasm for us in the sight of God. Because of this we have been encouraged. And in addition to our own encouragement, we were even more pleased at how happy Titus was. His mind has been put at rest by all of you.” (2 Corinthians 7:12-13)
When someone is doing wrong, go to them and gently point out what is wrong. Initially they may not appreciate it but our hope and prayer is that it will lead them back to following Jesus.
“Brothers and sisters, if a person is caught doing something wrong, you who are spiritual should restore someone like this with a spirit of gentleness. Watch out for yourselves so you won’t be tempted too.” (Galatians 6:1)
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Readings for next week: 1 Corinthians 16; 2 Corinthians 1-8.
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