2 Corinthians 1:3-7 ESV
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.”
When we follow Jesus Christ with our lives, in wholehearted devotion to him, we will share in the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. We will be hated, persecuted, sinned against, lied to, slandered, betrayed, attacked, falsely accused, blamed for the sins of others, called names, and treated mercilessly by those who are our enemies. And sometimes those enemies are members of our own families (see Matt 10:34-39).
But what we go through, we do not go through alone. Now, we may not have a support group, and we may not have other Christians walking alongside us, encouraging us along the way, but we may be abandoned, rejected, and ostracized from others who claim Jesus as Savior of their lives, who have gone the way of the world, and who are not walking in holiness, and so they may not be one in heart and mind with us in our suffering.
So, when I say we do not go through it alone, first of all I mean that our God is with us, he is living within us who are his by genuine faith in him, and he is there comforting, encouraging, strengthening, empowering, comforting, and counseling us every step of the way. So, we don’t have to go this alone. And then there are other believers who may not live close to us or who we don’t know about who are going through similar battles, so we are not alone.
And then there will be some Christians who will be open about what they are going through, and then we will be able to comfort them with the comfort that we received from the Lord when we were going through our difficulties. Or, in us sharing our struggles and how the Lord helped us through them, we may be comforting others who we have never met and may never know how what we said touched them and helped them.
But the word “comfort” is not all this mushy-gushy sweet talk where we fill people’s minds with a bunch of nonsense that is not biblical at all but that makes them feel good inside. For it is no comfort to anyone who is going through difficult times if we lie to them because we think that is going to make them feel better. For if we comfort someone in the way the Lord comforts us, well, he always tells us the truth.
And this word “comfort” has to do with coming to one’s aid, and we are not aiding anyone by lying to him. Also this word is the same as encouragement which also means exhortation, holy urging, and entreaty. And this has to do with encouragement according to the word of God and according to the will of God, so we can’t just make it up as we go, either. It needs to be biblical for it to be genuine encouragement (comfort).
Therefore, if we are comforting others who are going through the same sufferings as we have gone through or are going through with the comfort we received from God then it will be in like manner as that which God would give, the kind of counsel and holy urging he would provide. So, this is about motivating and inspiring our fellow Christians to carry out God’s plan for their lives, despite or in the face of or because of their suffering.
And the main comfort that we receive is what the word of God says to us, especially what it teaches us about suffering, persecutions, and afflictions and the purpose that they serve in our lives in our walks of faith and in our spiritual maturing process and in us being made holy and like Jesus. And then there are the encouragements from the word with regard to how we are to respond to our sufferings and also to our enemies.
[Rom 5:3-5; Php 3:7-11; 1 Pet 1:6-7; 1 Pet 4:12-17; 1 Thess 3:1-5; Jas 1:2-4; Matt 5:10-12; Lu 21:12-19; 2 Co 1:3-11; Heb 12:3-12; Rev 3:19]
2 Corinthians 1:8-11 ESV
“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.”
Paul and the other apostles were being severely persecuted by their enemies, some of whom claimed God as their Father. There were times when Paul had to name names and to call people out because they were influencing others in a bad way or because they were lying and leading people astray or because they were persecuting those who were telling the truth and they were hindering the truth of the gospel from going forward.
Now, we are not to be those who spread gossip, but we are also not to be those who hide the sinful practices of others or who help aid other Christians in hiding their sinful practices. For the Scriptures are real clear on this subject of Christians living in sin and it impacting other Christians so that they may follow suit, feeling as though they can also live in sin.
And in 1 Corinthians 5 we read about a situation where there was incest going on within the church and the church knew about this and they did nothing about it. And this is the situation we are finding ourselves in today in a large majority of the church here in America. And this is largely because they have altered the gospel message and they have removed God’s requirements for repentance, obedience, and submission to him.
So, sin is running rampant in the church, and sexual immorality is skyrocketing with the number of people now possessing smart phones which are pocket-sized computers where they have free access to a whole world of evil at their fingertips 24/7 in the corner of a crowded room but in complete privacy. And many young people and even small children are being handed these devices and they are getting engaged in sexual immorality, too.
And if we know this stuff is going on and we remain silent and say nothing, what are we doing in comforting anyone with the comfort we received from the Lord? We are not! We are no help to anyone if we remain silent about the sin situation in today’s modern church and how sin is running rampant and how the leaders are not following biblical mandates on how to stop the sin from spreading throughout the church (see 1 Co 5).
So, sometimes we got to speak out. We have to talk about what we are suffering and where that suffering is coming from and what the impact of what is going on is having on our lives and on the church as a whole. Paul said he did not want the other Christians to be unaware of his suffering, and yet today we feel it is wrong to talk about what we are suffering at the hands of sinners or to call out those who are leading others into sin.
Sometimes we need to talk about what we are going through because we need prayer and we need others lifting us up in prayer so that we remain strong and steadfast and so we don’t fall to pieces. And other times we need to talk about what is going on because it is impacting the whole church, and we are to judge those inside the church (1 Co 5:12). So, we are to purge from among us those who are living in deliberate and habitual sin if they are not willing to repent. And unwillingness is revealed by actions, not words.
Oh, church, we need to stop being “nice” all the time while sin is running rampant in the church and people’s lives are being destroyed and marriages are falling apart and children are being abused and taken advantage of. We need to speak out against this gospel which is leading so many people down a path of sin and we need to rebuke the lies and proclaim the truth, and perhaps some people will listen and they will turn from their sin, and perhaps if enough of us speak out revival will take place. But if we all remain silent and say nothing, then what? Please take this to heart.
Breath Of Heaven (Mary’s Song)
Songwriters: Amy Lee Grant / Chris Eaton
I have traveled many moonless nights
Cold and weary with a babe inside
And I wonder what I’ve done
Holy father you have come
And chosen me now to carry your son
I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now
Be with me now
Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me your holiness
For you are holy
Breath of heaven
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