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The Scriptorium

Sorrow and Joy

They're both part of our calling. 2 Corinthians 3.1-3

2 Corinthians 2 (1)

Pray Psalm 125.1, 2.
Those who trust in the LORD
Are like Mount Zion,
Which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
So the LORD surrounds His people
From this time forth and forever.

Sing Psalm 125.1, 2.
(St. Gertrude: Onward, Christian Soldiers)
All who trust in Jesus, strong as Zion stand!
Naught shall ever move them from their promised land!
Like the hills surrounding safe Jerusalem,
Christ surrounds His Church and holds her in His mighty Hand!
Refrain, v. 1
All who trust in Jesus, strong as Zion stand!
Naught shall ever move them from their promised land!

Read and meditate on 2 Corinthians 2.1-3.

1. What had Paul determined?

2. What confidence did he have toward the Corinthians?

Paul explained more about why he did not fulfill his plan to come to the Corinthians. He feared that, after such an indicting and admonitory letter as 1 Corinthians, his coming to them at that time would have increased the sorrow he knew they must have felt from his first epistle (vv. 1, 2). And that would only be sorrow for him as well, with no one in Corinth to gladden his soul (v. 2).

Paul intended the Corinthians to sorrow for their sins. He wrote 1 Corinthians because, when he did return to Corinth, he might share with them in the joy of their salvation (v. 3). Schism, blinking at sin, abusing the Lord’s Supper, taking one another to court, failing to work for edification—the existence of any of these in a church should bring the people of God to tears of repentance and renewal. That was Paul’s intent in 1 Corinthians, and he came to believe that an additional visit as he had planned would not improve the situation but might instead make it worse.

The Corinthians had been a source of great joy to Paul during the nearly two years he served among them (v. 3). His only desire, in causing them sorrow by his first epistle, was to restore them to the joy he knew among them in the Lord. He was confident that they shared this joy, and he hoped that, despite the season of sorrow his epistle had brought about, they would rediscover their joy once again.

Titus’ report on the Corinthians’ response to Paul’s first epistle confirmed—for him, at least—the decision not to have visited them, renewed the joy he’d known among them, and gave him hope that they were back on track with the Lord Jesus.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
Although there is much truth found in Nehemiah’s words, “Do not worry, for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Neh. 8.10), we are still affected by the sorrow or misbehavior of those we love. And conversely, our hearts swell with joy when they are walking in God’s love and truth.

“He who begets a scoffer does so to his sorrow, and the father of a fool has no joy.”
“A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her who bore him” (Prov. 17.21, 25).

“My son, if your heart is wise, my heart will rejoice—indeed, I myself; yes, my inmost being
will rejoice when your lips speak right things” (Prov. 23.15, 16).

“For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 Jn. 3, 4).

“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy” (1 Thess. 2.19, 20).

We know how other people’s behavior affects our joy; but do we ever stop to consider that our behavior affects others as well?

There are people who pray for you, who love you, and want you to continue to be sanctified in your faith, as you “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2.12). There are those who care deeply for your soul. They may be mentors, or parents, or pastors, or elders, or spouses, but most surely there are those who do care for your soul.

“Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you” (Heb. 13.17).

“My joy is the joy of you all” (2 Cor. 2.3). May you experience the joy and be the joy!

For reflection
1. What are some situations that might cause you to sorrow? How should you respond to these?

2. How can you keep focused on the joy of the Lord in the midst of sorrow?

3. Whom will you comfort today by leading them into the joy of the Lord?

Paul says, that he has such a fellow-feeling with the Corinthians, that he cannot feel joyful, unless he sees them happy. Nay more, he declares that they were the source and the authors of his joy ― which they could not be, if they were themselves sorrowful.
John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on 2 Corinthians 2.2

Pray Psalm 125.1, 4, 5.
Pray that the grace and peace of the Lord will prevail in your church, and that your church will be strong in furthering its mission of making all the nations disciples.

Sing Psalm 125.1, 4, 5.
(St. Gertrude: Onward, Christian Soldiers)
LORD, do good and care for those upright in heart.
Those who turn to evil shall from You depart.
Sinful men may increase on their way to hell!
Save Your people, let your peace abound in Israel!
Refrain, v. 1
All who trust in Jesus, strong as Zion stand!
Naught shall ever move them from their promised land!

T. M. and Susie Moore

The Church in Corinth was in need of revival. But there was much to be done before that would happen. The Church today is in need of revival, and the same is true for us. Our book, Revived!, can help us to discern our need for revival and lead us in getting there. Order your copy by clicking here.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter, available by clicking here.


T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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