Our individualistic culture that values disparate perspectives on truth and living for what feels right doesn’t always appreciate the calling of poor behaviour to account. I have walked away from many hard conversations with fellow believers feeling discomforted, despite knowing it was the loving thing to do. I have also celebrated with many of these people following these hard conversations as they have experienced the joy and the peace of bringing their lives in line with the Lordship of Christ. In today’s passage, Paul celebrates the change he has heard of in the Corinthian church.
Paul had written a letter to the Corinthian church, most likely before what we know as 1 Corinthians, that was quite harsh in calling the church to account for their behaviour. Titus has returned to Paul with great news of their repentance shown through their earnestness, longing, concern, and desire for justice (v11). Paul contrasts Godly sorrow that leads to repentance and salvation, with worldly sorrow that leads to death (v10). The Corinthian church found Paul's words hard to hear, yet responded with repentance which led to growth. The change in the Corinthian church was demonstrated in the way they had encouraged Titus, and therefore the way that encouraged Paul.
Sometimes our temptation is to run from the hard things, whether they be times of suffering, words of challenge or a call to accountability. Yet sometimes, God uses these things to call us back to himself, to correct areas that perhaps have not been sitting under his Lordship. Are you engaged in places where people can speak honestly to you and keep you accountable as you seek to live as a disciple of Christ? Where can you celebrate how God has used this spaces for your growth? Spend some time reflecting on how you might be more open to your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ helping you along the journey of discipleship.