Don’t Be A Quitter

Did you know that 2 Corinthians is actually Paul’s 4th letter to that church? Since I’ve been obsessed with Sherlock on PBS, I guess I’ve put on my own detective hat and discovered a bit of Bible trivia. 

Paul spent 18 months ministering in the city of Corinth, a very cosmopolitan city. Both Jews and Greeks lived there influencing one another with their ideas of culture and religion. After Paul left, he learned the Corinthians were struggling with immoral behavior, so he wrote a letter to the church which has since been lost. That was letter #1. The Corinthians wrote a letter in return asking for clarifications on conduct and church rules. Paul responded by writing a letter we know as 1 Corinthians. His next letter (#3) to them was also lost, but his 4th letter is our book of 2 Corinthians. 

In each letter Paul not only encouraged the Christians in Corinth, but he confronted their sin. Time and again, Paul must have been disappointed in their drama and struggles. He taught them, invested into them, and spurred them on….only to travel to another city and learn that the Corinthians were listening to false teachers and struggling with immoral behavior. What’s more is that a few of the Corinthians began to doubt Paul’s authority! I can imagine Paul’s exasperation over their lack of maturity.

If you are a parent, I bet you can relate to Paul. We train our kids to act a certain way, and then we are shocked to see some of their decisions, like running crazily through a friend’s house or making a poor choice at a party. In those moments, we might feel disappointed or even angry. I’m sure Paul felt the same way on some level.

Here’s the kicker: Paul didn’t give up on the Corinthians. He didn’t wash his hands of them when situations grew tiresome. He didn’t stop loving or encouraging or fighting for them. He could have gotten defensive when the Corinthians doubted his authority. He could have become offended when they forgot all that Paul had already done for them. He could have grown tired of their immaturity and chosen to put his attention elsewhere.

He didn’t.

He didn’t give up, give in, walk away, get defensive, or become offended. He kept doing what God told him to do! Even when difficulties – physical AND emotional – made life tough, Paul kept fulfilling the mission God gave him.

Friends, that’s the key to resiliency: KNOW YOUR MISSION. When you know your mission….your purpose….you won’t give up in the hard times! Our ability to recover quickly from difficulties is found in the understanding of our purpose.

What has God asked you to do? Whatever it is, keep doing it. When – not if – life gets tough, when emotions get bruised, remember your calling. Paul did, and God used him to change lives. What could God do through you today?

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Sherlock, John, and Paul….and life lessons along the way

sherlockI love TV. What can I say? I’m a child of the 80’s when we watched all the greats: Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Cheers, The Wonder Years, and MacGyver. On summer days, I would wake up in time to watch reruns of The Love Boat while eating Captain Crunch. On school nights, my homework was completed in time for Moonlighting with Bruce Willis. Oh, yes. I’m a TV girl.

Still to this day my TV is on most of the time. But network programming is so yesterday for me. Now, Netflix owns me. No commercials. Binge-watching. Thousands of options. I confess I often spend more time surfing those options than I do actually viewing movies, yet My List on Netflix is full.

My latest binge-worthy find? Sherlock. It airs on PBS on Masterpiece Mystery, but seasons 1-3 are available on Netflix, and I’m hooked. Last night, I watched an episode in which two characters were at complete odds. One had betrayed another, and weeks of confrontations and accusations had ensued.

Then, came the moment. John forgave his wife. He said her past was her’s to deal with, but her future was his privilege to embrace. Tears streamed down her face as she accepted his forgiveness. John embraced his wife in comfort even as he confessed that he was still very angry. Nevertheless, he longed to restore the relationship. Score! That was a great scene.

Now, I don’t want to stretch too far, but we could all learn a thing or two from John Watson. Better yet, let’s learn from the Apostle Paul….he probably has more authority since he was a real person and all.

In his second letter to the church in Corinth, Paul dealt with a church discipline issue. Previously, the church had united in confronting a man over a particular sin. I’m sure it was difficult and painful. What confrontation isn’t? In 2 Corinthians, however, Paul shared profound wisdom. Check it out:

“Now it is time to forgive him and comfort him. Otherwise he may become so discouraged that he won’t be able to recover. Now show him that you still love him.” 2 Cor 2: 7-8 (NLT)

Wow. That is a practical instruction for each of us today! Paul is referring to the church discipline issue, but the instruction resonates with me! There is a time to confront and a time to comfort. In parenting….in marriage….in friendships….in working relationships…..we need to know when to confront and when to offer the comfort of forgiveness.  

Paul said there was a time to confront and there was time to comfort….otherwise the offender might become too discouraged to recover from his mistake. 

The same is true for people in our lives.

  • We cannot hold grudges against our spouses.
  • We cannot deal too harshly with our children.
  • We cannot ostracize other people.

Friends, let’s hold high standards but be full of grace, comfort, and love. Let’s not use discipline or confrontation in an unforgiving way. Remember, the goal of discipline or confrontation is to restore the relationship, not to destroy the person. When people in our lives repent, let’s shelve our anger and graciously forgive. After all, that’s what God does for us every day. 

What does that look like for you today?

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