Smoothing things over with someone doesn’t always take a lot of effort, but at times require us to swallow some pride.
In the first few verses of chapter two of Second Corinthians, the apostle Paul is smoothing things over with the Corinthian Church. In the First book of Corinthians, he wrote with a rod stemming from love, rather than ear tickling stemming from complacency.
2 Corinthians 2: King James Bible
1 But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness. 2 For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me? 3 And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.
Paul Scolded the Corinthians
Paul Scolded the Corinthians in his first letter. He was catching wind of all kinds of things going on that differed from what he had instructed them since his last visit. This prompted his first letter, in which he didn’t hold much back.
Just in the first few chapters of 1 Corinthians, he:
- Called them babes in Christ
- Revealed them as unfit to receive any of the deeper things of the Lord
- Called them out on their envying, strife, divisions, and carnality
- Pointed out their wrongdoing concerning their glorying in men rather than God
- He called them on their passive nature toward fornications, tolerating the leaven of the church
Much of what he addressed he spoke to their shame, with the goal of causing them to aright themselves. A great deal of 2 Corinthians 2 deals with why he was as harsh as he was, and used this letter to smooth things over after having heard of the impact of his first letter.
Paul didn’t want to arrive just to do the job that the church leadership should have been doing all along. He wanted to show up and relay everything that the Lord had given him to share, rather than spin the wheels backwards by correcting everything.
When an entire body of people are scolded, the ones that should be feeling it the worst should be those who are in charge. Should the leadership have been doing things properly, there wouldn’t have been place given to such a written smack-down by Paul.
Knowing his Place
The Apostle Paul knew his place as an apostle. This was his calling, and he had a part in appointing others to fill the needs of the church through their own particular calling.
The verses above reveal this to us in an abstract manner, as he intends to arrive as the apostle, rather than the pastor, teacher, or deacon.
1 Corinthians 12: King James Bible
27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.
29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
Filling the Gap
All that said, there are times where we are led by the Father to fill the gap where an office is lacking. But this doesn’t come by way of our own inclination, but by the lead of the Lord.
Everyone’s got their own call to fulfill, their own job to do. There are two reasons I can think of, where a person already following a particular calling is led to fill the gap in an area that is different than what he’s already been sanctioned for.
- Nobody else to do it
There is a vacancy in that department for some reason. Either the person who is supposed to be doing what the Lord led you to take on, rejected the salvation of the Lord, and for lack of a better way to put it “didn’t take the job.” Or the person is saved but is doing a lousy job, placing no care or thought into the will of the Lord for his life.
2. Teach Perspective
Sometimes the Lord will have us walk into a different position for a time, to increase our working knowledge of a particular office. In this we grow, and receive an understanding that we couldn’t have gained otherwise.
Both of these reasons are Spirit led, and are not the will of the person involved, but rather the fulfillment of the will of the Lord.
Following our own Will
Something very different happens when we take it upon ourselves to step into someone else’s office though. When we follow our own will, and take it upon ourselves to jump from one position to another, all kinds of things go wrong.
My knee jerk thought goes toward a couple of teachers I’ve witnessed, thinking that it was a good time to start prophesying. Their lessons and teaching was without a doubt Spirit led, Spirit filled, and anointed by the Lord.
But for whatever the reason, they took it upon themselves to start prophesying. The prophecies didn’t come to pass, and they made fools of themselves. Or in one that comes to mind, it was so wish-washy and without any real substance or detail, it could’ve been a horoscope reading!
Even still, it never came to pass. Though these were falsely given prophesies, I wouldn’t consider these as false prophets. Reason being- they’re not prophets at all. They are teachers doing what they feel the Lord wants them to do, rather than the Lord instructing them to do it. They do it in err, rather than harboring devious intent.
It’s a mistake that some of us make with the best of intentions, and at times out of great zeal for the Lord. But zeal should never surpass the Lord’s will and plan for our lives.
The Apostle Paul understands his call, and the call of those who are the leadership involved at the church of Corinth.
Scolding Done – Time to Heal
The Apostle Paul had received word of the sorrow that his letter had caused, and also word of repentance. In these first few verses, he is telling them that he didn’t want to arrive angry or feared, but in gladness of heart.
That wasn’t about to happen if he arrived and the entire church was walking on eggshells. Plus, as he had mentioned in the verses just prior to this chapter, he isn’t lord over their faith.
They needed to be able to be obedient to the Lord while he was absent as well as when he was present. Not just when he’s in town. This is what he’s explaining to them, and began this chapter off with a reassurance that he has no will to arrive in heaviness, and to witness their sorrow.
He’d rather that he arrive in gladness; bearing witness to their fruit and spiritual well being. I believe that this reassurance was an important instrument to allow that to happen.
What we Should Take from This
There is a strange sense of humility that comes from smoothing things over after we’ve come down on someone. I’m not talking about wrongly doing so, but justly.
Having been in a position of authority, I have had the privilege to partake in this at my former place of employment. Also (and more importantly) as a parent.
Sometimes, how we respond to others after they have made corrections according to our scolding, is just as important as the corrections themselves. Do we respond proudly and behave as if we won a battle; or pridefully scoff, annoyed that we had to say anything in the first place?
Or do we follow the Apostle’s example as he was led by the Lord? Smoothing things over is an important thing to learn. When done so lovingly, in an explanatory manner, we can explain why the correction was so important.
Reason for a scolding or anything of that nature is always an important thing for the person on the receiving end to understand. This helps them to relate to why your response is the way it is, and why it’s so important to hold fast to their correction.
Without that understanding, they’d be more likely to do it again, but be better at not allowing you to find out about it so quickly.
Knowing God’s Reasoning
This is especially important as it relates to the Word of God, and holding others to it. If I can’t explain God’s reasoning for the do’s and don’t of the Bible, then I’m not going to be very effective at correcting my son when he does something that the Lord doesn’t want him to do, Right?
Having the ability to smooth things over after a correction is a great opportunity to explain the reasoning behind it. But if we can’t properly answer the question “Why?” then everything else will lose credibility.
“Because the Bible says so” doesn’t fly too well these days. Only a few out there would settle for that when it comes down to trying to correct someone in a manner that sticks.
The Lord has good, sound reasons, for all things that he’s said and established. We can find it all in the Word through study and prayer. Using “Because God said so” isn’t only too vague, but might just be a lazy way to explain ourselves.
As it relates to spiritual matters, our reasoning better be just, Biblically secure, and sound; presented lovingly while smoothing things over after scolding or offering a correction.
Thanks for Reading!
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Thanks for checking in and checking out “Smoothing things Over – 2 Corinthians 2 Part 1.”
- Swallowed up in Sorrow – 2 Corinthians 2 Part 2
- Stand Firm in Faith – 2 Corinthians 1 Part 11
- In the Person of Christ – 2 Corinthians 2 Part 3
- Preaching 101 – 2 Corinthians 4 Part 3
- What is a Minister?