Overcoming Anger – 2Corinthians 2:1-17

Sometimes the right thing to do is confront
bad behavior or attitudes. As a leader there have been times when I have had to call someone
on the carpet. Itís never easy and too often that person does not receive the exhortation
or even rebuke well. As a leader, my job is to protect and nurture the body. If someoneís
actions or words are seriously harming another then I need to step in. Fortunately this doesnít
happen very often but it has been among the most difficult jobs of a leader and I never
look forward to it. Paul faced such a situation. Heís pretty
sharply rebuked the Corinthians and was on his way to visit them to see if theyíd listened
to him when he caught wind that things had gone from bad to worse. The people had originally
taken up sides against one another by worshipping certain leaders like Paul, Peter, and Apollos.
After Paulís letter they instead took up against the Apostle Paul by siding with other
leaders who were actually ìpastors for hireî and not apostles at all. Add to that a particularly sharp exchange
between Paul and someone in the congregation and it was a little like holding a lit match
to a barrel of gun powder; one false move and the entire church might explode into nothing,
and all of the lives hurt in the process. So Paul takes a different course. Instead
of coming and laying down the law he writes a letteróone filled with personal anguishólike
a loving father instead of a stern school master. Heís hoping this indirect approach
will wake the Corinthians up so he can see them corrected while maintaining his relationship
with him. 1 ñ 4 Youíve got to give it Paul. He had one of
the most difficult ministries of anyone. He marched forward with the gospel despite huge
opposition from the Jews and Gentiles. Paulís main consolation was the encouragement he
received from the saints. To have the Corinthians so messed up and now attacking him was almost
more than he could bear. So he decided not to come in person but to write this letter. If he had come he would have been filled with
so much grief it might have been too much to bear. It reminds me of Jesus standing before
Jerusalem: Matthew 23:37-38 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! The
city who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to
gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, yet you were not
willing! ? Paul wanted to spend his time getting cheered
up in fellowship and in turn encourage the Corinthians. So he wrote the letterópouring
over it with an anguished heart and many tears. He wants them to know that he isnít so much
mad at them as much as worried about them. Many times a leaderís heart is misunderstood
in this way. When people hear something they donít want to hear they often get defensive
as if the leader is purposefully singling them out to hurt them. In a good leader this
is never the case. The end is always to restore and heal and cause growthónot hurt. The New Living Translation says ìSurely you
know that my happiness depends on your happiness.î How true that is. It brings so much joy when
the members of the body are growing and full of joy! In a way to illustrate this point, Paul turns
from the general atmosphere to a very specific incident: 5 ñ 11 When it comes to church discipline the church
often makes one of two errors. Either they are too lenient (the Corinthians earlier)
or too harsh (the Corinthians here). Apparently someone had directly and openly challenged
Paulís authority and criticized the Apostle pretty severely. Some others in the body so
thoroughly rebuked this guy that he turned to sorrow and grief. There is a real delicate balance when it comes
to dealing with those who have gone ìall inî with what their flesh is telling them
to do. We have a natural ìfight or flightî response when placed in stressful situations.
Rather than be open to exhortation, our self-rationalizing brain gets so worked up that we find no other
choice but to strike out and hard. That never really works, in fact the Scriptures tell
us that: James 1:19-21 My dearly loved brothers, understand
this: everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger, 20 for man’s
anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. When called on his behavior the man again,
instead of seeking to repent and be changed, he withdrew. I have seen this many many times
and it grieves me every time. Pain caused by this guy was not just hurting
Paul but the entire body because they are all interrelated and interconnected. This
is so vital for us to remember when we find ourselves wanting to strike out. Now, this isnít to say that we should never
disagree. Thatís not it at all. But we can disagree without disapprovalóespecially if
our aim is to reflect the character of Jesus Christ. This was also not a personal vendetta.
Calling Paul into question called the gospel into question. We as leaders need thick skin
and to focus on the defense of the gospel, not ourselves. So Paul tells them to show this guy some loveóthat
theyíve done enough to make the point that what he did was wrong. Just as the Corinthians should obey the gospel
that Paul preached, the hallmark of that gospel is forgiveness. Paul wants to join with the
Corinthians in extending forgiveness to this personóeven though it was he who was wronged.
He says ìin the presence of Christî so that they realize everything that we do, even the
motives hidden behind our words and actions, are done ìin the face of Christî (the literal
Greek). Anything you say or do or think should be
done with consideration that Jesus is right here and listening! So then at the end here is this incredibly
weighty almost aside. If repentance and restoration are not the aim of church discipline, resentment
will followóand thatís just want Satan intends. Satan wants to tempt people into doing things
that he can later accuse them of and if he has willing participants, can bring along
other church members to pile on. His end is to push the Christian away from God and from
each other. Godís purpose is to break, then heal. Galatians 6:1-2 Brothers, if someone is caught
in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit,
watching out for yourselves so you won’t be tempted also. Zeal without knowledge can be just as effective
a weapon for Satan as sin if it pushes someone away from a relationship with God. Donít
be a party to it. 12 ñ 13 Troas is a major port city in Asia Minor.
Paul had a big door for the preaching of the gospel open to him but was so concerned about
his emissary to the Corinthians, Titus, that he left in search of him in Macedonia. Later
we learn that Titus met up with Paul and reported that Paulís ìsevere letterî had had a positive
effect and so he sent Titus back with what we call 2 Corinthians. Titus was Paulís enforcer
in a wayóthe man you sent into a troubled area to make things rightóand apparently
he had much success. But this shows just how much the situation in Corinth affected Paulóand
the anguish of heart over their condition. 14 ñ 17 There are some who suggest that beginning
here and ending in chapter 7 is another letter entirely because of the abrupt change in tone.
Here Paul inserts this praise to God and at first it seems out of place. One explanation though, is that Paul is saying
that no matter what trials or problems or weaknesses confront us, the gospel will be
victorious. The ìputs us on displayî or ìleads us in
triumphal processionî is a reference to what the Roman generals used to do in leading their
captives on parade through the streets of Rome, while incense burned in great clouds
to their god Jupiter. His point is to focus on the big thingóthe
gospel. Wherever we go and whatever we do, we as Christians (little Christs) either represent
the promise of life or the certainty of death, depending on how you respond to the gospel. Conclusions? Whatís your scent? We would like to be pure,
but have you ever walked through a department store
perfume area? The sheer number of scents is overwhelming and you canít pick out any individual
ones. Sometimes as Christians we confuse the scent
of Christ with the scent of the flesh or the scent of the enemy as he influences us to
use the flesh. Whoís Using You? You may not like to admit
it, but you are going to be used by someone, and it will either be the Lord or Satan. We can unwittingly be
a part of the ìintentionsî of the enemy. How can we tell the difference? Enemyís Intentions ?Satisfy the self-interest above all
?Take revenge for hurts ?Be retributive rather than restorative
?Let anger/envy/jealousy take the lead Godís Intentions ?Satisfy the needs of the gospel and bring glory to God (imitate
Him) ?Let hurts pass ?Be restorative, not retributive
?Let peace/patience/kindness/goodness/gentleness/self-control lead

6 thoughts on “Overcoming Anger – 2Corinthians 2:1-17

  1. What do you think is making you angry? What's the first thing that comes to mind? It may be that the Lord needs to touch and heal that area of your life.

  2. By the many emotional words used of God throughout the Scriptures, like "love" in Mark 10, for instance. There are differences in the way God experiences emotions however. He is not a victim of His emotions as we often are. Pick several words that describe emotions and search through the BIble for them.

  3. Thank you for the sermon, I really understand and I'll continue to control around my family my anger, I want joy not hate or being mad and acting up.

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