Reassurance of Friendship

Series: 2 Corinthians

2 Corinthians 7:2-4 ESV
Make room in your hearts for us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have taken advantage of no one. [3] I do not say this to condemn you, for I said before that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together. [4] I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.

So far in Second Corinthians, we have listened to the brief introduction to the letter (1:1-2), Paul’s defense of his reliability in regard to his plans and actual travels (1:3-2:13), and a lengthy presentation of his new covenant ministry as an apostle of Jesus Christ and its importance for them (2:14-7:1). Now we hear a brief transitional section (7:2-4), which forms a bridge to the remainder of the letter. The vocabulary used points forward and back, providing evidence of the unity of this letter.
The apostle Paul concluded the previous section by calling them to live according to what they are in Christ; namely, the temple of the living God. After doing that, he immediately reassures them of their friendship or fellowship or partnership in the gospel. What we want to think about today is the attitude that must saturate our approach to the Christian way of life. How ought we to live together as Christ’s people? We can profit greatly by learning how Paul reassures his dear friends in Corinth.
I. He tells them to “make room” for him (7:2).
A. A contrast of two churches, Corinth and Thessalonica, will help us understand the reason for this request. Both were started at about the same time by the same church planter (Paul), but they had developed different views of the Christian way of life, and Corinth’s view was very defective.

1. The church of Thessalonica started in a time of persecution. They had a decisive break from idols and quickly became a missional gospel partnership. The word rang out from them (1 Th 1:8)! Yes, they needed to grow in grace, like all Christians do. Although they knew Paul a short time, they were open to his ministry.

2. Some conflict with the Jews in Corinth happened in Corinth, but this church did not start in the turmoil of persecution. In fact, the Lord Jesus guaranteed Paul release from persecution there (Ac 18:9-10). This was a great outward advantage that Paul used well. But at the same time, the believers in Corinth seemed a little too at home in the world. This showed itself again and again in their attitudes about worldly wisdom and their willingness to participate in contact with idolatry, which every new gathering of believers was told to avoid (Ac 15:29). Both of these combined together, with evil actions of false teachers, to make them rather closed to Paul’s new covenant ministry.

3. So then, after telling them to separate from idolatry, which they had been too open towards, Paul commands them as Christ’s apostle to make room for him, whom they had been closed towards. They had been open toward the wrong things of idolatry and closed to their true gospel partner. So he repeats the command of 6:13 in different words.

Apply: Each of us should evaluate ourselves to see if we are open to gospel influences and closed to the influence of the world and its idols.
B. He joins another personal defense of himself to this command. I think that Paul is giving a summary, forceful defense of himself of any supposed charges that anyone could possibly bring against him. He wants to end the past mess once and for all, in order to have a fresh start with them.

1. He has mistreated no one. When he directed the church to take action against certain people, they were receiving what they deserved. Christ’s apostle is simply applying the Lord’s directives to them.

2. He has corrupted no one. Teaching the way of grace does not provide a license to sin, regardless of how some have twisted the gospel. Gospel grace always leads to a godly way of life.

3. He has taken advantage of no one. The fact that faith in Christ involves a break with a worldly and idolatrous way of life, which can lead to financial loss for some, does not mean than Paul was somehow out to ruin some of them.

Illustration: Consider the book Radical by David Platt. Suppose a couple reads it and agrees to downsize their lifestyle in order to give more of their lives and finances for the gospel. In the process, something unexpected happens and they suffer financial loss. The author was not trying to cause them harm, but redirecting them to follow Christ more fully. Sometimes in God’s providence people suffer unforeseen difficulties, which might have happened anyway!
II. They needed to receive Paul’s words in the spirit in which they were given (7:3).
A. He had not said what he had to condemn them.

1. Since we are sinners and know what sin deserves, it is too easy for any of us to walk around in a spirit of condemnation. The case is complicated for those who lack a clear understanding of the gospel, which they don’t live in conformity with. So, when they hear the Lord’s commands, they hear condemnation instead of instruction in Christ-likeness. And so they act like they are being judged rather than helped.

2. Paul understands such spiritual weakness, so he plainly tells them that he is not speaking this way to condemn them. They should have caught his true attitude when he reminded them of what they are in Christ and the promises they have from God. But some people are slow to understand, and Paul wisely reassures them.

Point: We must be willing to invest the necessary time it takes to reassure others of our love in Christ for them. Once said is rarely sufficient, especially when admonition and correction is involved. Love is patient.
B. He adds a reminder about his deep brotherly commitment to them.

1. He resends a message about his ongoing affection for them. They are in his heart! Here is where the contemporary church falls far short of the early church. Their operating attitude of heart was deep affection; ours sadly has been casual acquaintance. Vibrant Christianity does not rise out of the surface dust of casual friendship.

2. He commits to being willing to die or to live with them. Paul had the same kind of kindred spirit that Ittai the Gittite showed to David (2 Sm 15:21). Such an attitude shows forth the power of God’s love. This is how to reassure one another!

Apply: We ought to remind one another of our commitment to each other. For example, once someone watched the movie Dave, which is about an ordinary guy who becomes a stand-in for the president and through a bizarre plot finds that the temp job has become permanent. Eventually, Dave fills guilty about doing this, and leaves. But in the meantime, he wins the loyalty of a secret service agent, who says, “Dave, I would’ve taken a bullet for you.” And so, someone said to me, “Pastor, I’d take a bullet for you.” And I think he did a few times! Each of us should have that kind of kindred spirit for each other.
III. He reassures them about his love for them (7:4).
A. He reminds them about how he speaks to them and of them. He knows he must do this, because of the way he has spoken to them. And they need to know how he talks to others about them.

1. To them, he always talked with great boldness. This is how Christians should talk with each other, since God’s love has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rm 5:5)., and love rejoices with the truth (1 Cor 13:6). Love wants those it loves to walk in the truth (3 Jn 4). While love will speak kindly, it will also speak boldly, because hidden love is worthless.

2. About them, he always talked with great boasting. Paul bragged about what the grace of God did in them and through them. “Here are people, brought by the Spirit from the darkness of sin, who will one day rejoice in the glory of God!” What good news it is to see hopeless sinners now recently born again from above! What good news it also is to see Christ’s people persevere in grace year after year as they head for glory. We need to regain the lost art of boasting in the Lord (1 Cor 1:31).

B. He tells them of his joy while he is suffering.

1. This shows the depths of his delight in them. Though he is suffering, he is comforted, yes filled with comfort. Hmm, do you have this same kind of interest in those with whom you share life in Christ?

2. Not only is that true, but he also overflows with joy! Where does such overflowing joy come from. Clearly, it comes from the grace of Christ in the gospel. What Christ has accomplished through his death and resurrection is much greater than any trouble in the world.

Apply: Do you have such joy in the gospel?
~ Dave
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Pastor Dave Frampton: When push comes to shove there is usually nothing more satisfying than for a saint of God to have at his or her disposal a source of biblically sound instruction in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are here at CMC to be a blessing. Bible teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church[/author_info] [/author] [button link=”” color=”red” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church[/button]

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