27 September, 2005
Sometimes we make folks mad.. and that's OK
Today I was reading in 2 Corinthians chapter 7 where Paul is talking about how his previous letter upset the people at Corinth, and he says in verse 8 that he did not regret it, because (vs 9) his making them angry (sorrowful) led them to a place of repentance. He points out in verse 10 that there is a difference between godly sorrow/anger and that of the world. Most translations use the term "sorrow" in this passage, but in context, it is obvious that these people were not happy with Paul for what he said... but only for a little while, because his words caused them to think and then to repent. One thing to be certain, Paul did not say what he said with the intent of hurting anyone, but rather to bring about repentance. (See verses 12-13)
But there is another key to this passage that I saw today, and that is how the Corinthians dealt with his words. The words surely cut, and they did produce some anger and sorrow; but verse 11 says, "you sorrowed in a goldly manner. What dilegence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication!" What he is saying is they used their anger in a constructive way to examine themselves and when they discovered that Paul's words were correct.. rather than lash out at him, or attack him, they repented and made things right! Now that is a novel concept, isn't it! Do the right thing! Amazing! It seems that most of the time in the church world anymore, rather than using the energy to examine ourselves and make sure we are in a right standing with God (being righteous) people tend to start talking trash against the preacher/teacher who has spoken the word to them. They begin to do what I call "circling the wagons". That's where you find as many people as you can to side with you, and then you make your defense. Kind of like the old cowboy and indian movies. The only difference is they don't take a defensive posture, they usually go on the offense, trying to take out as many as they can to prove their circle is right.
As pastor, it is never easy to speak a word from God that you know is going to make someone mad. If I knew they would follow the practice of the Corinthian church, it would be easier, but sadly, I know that most often they will circle the wagans.