2 Make room for us in your hearts; we wronged no one, we corrupted no one, we took advantage of no one. 3 I do not speak to condemn you, for I have said before that you are in our hearts to die together and to live together. 4 Great is my confidence in you; great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort; I am overflowing with joy in all our affliction. 5 For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. 6 But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus; 7 and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced even more.
Paul does a little work here to reassure the Corinthians that he is not angry at them nor is he against them. His previous letter was a bit biting as it pointed out all the mistakes they were making in trying to follow Christ. In his letters to Timothy, Paul explains this process of exhortation when some are not walking the way they should be. He instructs to do it with brotherly love and now he is making sure that they understand that.
Verse 3 stuck out to me in this passage today because it is easy for us to condemn others, isn’t it? Although the Scriptures tell us (in yet another writing from Paul) in Romans 8:1 Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Very rarely do we apply that to others. Usually we look at this verse as it applies to us individually as a reassurance that we are going to heaven. Yet, we forget that this applies to all who believe and therefore have no right to condemn others. This, of course, isn’t to be confused with exhortation, teaching, and correcting. Even this, however, is 1) to be done in brotherly love and 2) is not to be done as a condemnation but as a way to help others. If we reveal things with the light of God through His Word, then there is no condemnation needed. The things in the dark are brought to light and the individual has the opportunity to make a decision.
As a historical note, Titus was the one who sought out Paul and whomever was with him in Macedonia to report how the Corinthians received the letter and their response. His relief was in that they repented and desired to learn more from Paul (which he discusses next). In the middle (verse 5 & 6) we see an interesting peek at 2 things. Paul actually had fears and God uses others to comfort us. These might seem quite bland or “yeah, I know that already,” but it isn’t always easy to remember.
When we look up to our spiritual leaders it seems like they are solid rocks without flaws. Yet Paul, one of the fiercest advocates of the Gospel, actually had fears. Regardless of his unwavering faith, he still got scared of things. While we are called to look up to our spiritual leaders we need to always remember that they too are human just like us. The only difference between us and these “heroes” is that they continually follow God despite the fears because they know that He will always provide what is necessary; this time it was comfort through the report from Titus. I imagine the fears and difficulties Paul’s troupe was having involved evangelism, persecution, and overall exhaustion from trying so hard to preach the truth but not many wanting to hear it. But they too needed comfort, friendship, and encouragement. When’s the last time you encouraged your leaders?
The spirit of this passage is one of togetherness, persistence, and love. Do you have this spirit in regards to other believers? Are we all working together for the common good and will of God or are we all taking our separate paths condemning those who are not right beside us? May we never forget that there is no condemnation, even from us to others.