For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn – conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus…
God sends His comfort to us not only by His Word, but also through the comfort of His children – other believers in Christ. I remember a time when a friend came and sat up with me till 2:30 in the morning in an especially hard time in my life. I can recall encouraging notes and phone calls received from dear brothers and sisters when life was difficult. We are privileged to be sent to others to bring God’s comfort and encouragement. Let’s be available!
As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.”
When we were in sin and cried out to God, out of His favor He heard us, out of His favor He helped us by salvation. We were wretched, lost, angry, lonely sinners, and He offered us friendship (unearned), love (unconditional), and peace (of heart, no matter what the circumstances). To receive this grace in vain is to have had this unearned love and friendship poured out on us so freely, yet to refuse to pass it on to others. He has LAVISHED us with grace, are we being stingy with it?
vs. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. vs. 16 and 17. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
So, now that Christ’s love compels us, we do not regard anyone from a worldly point of view. Those who are not saved, who are outside of Christ are lost sheep, without a shepherd. We must not be condemning, but compassionate toward them. Because it is the love of Christ that compels us, we cannot look at Christian brothers and sisters from a worldly point of view either. Condemnation, gossip and manipulation should not exist among the members of the Body of Christ, or how would the body function properly? We are called to live our lives motivated by the love of Christ our Saviour.
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. vs. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness”, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
This is a reminder to us: the unsaved cannot see. We cannot expect the spiritually blind to walk as we do. If there was ever a model of prayer for the unsaved, here it is. God is giving us the key to prayer for the unbeliever. As we seek God for those who are unsaved, let us pray that God will cure the blindness if their minds and make His light to shine in their hearts.
You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
This picture is two fold: those whom we disciple are letters from Christ to the world, the result of our ministry. 3 John:4 says it best, ” I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth”. To watch those you have invested in become great letters for Christ is pure joy. In the same way, we are letters, written through Christ by someone who invested in us. The beauty of it is this: in any case, it is God who does the writing.
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.
Don’t miss this: it is a triumphal procession in Christ. As we go, there is present a fragrance – a fragrance of the knowledge of Christ. When someone says to you, “What is it about you that is different?” It is the fragrance of Christ. If someone comments about your integrity or kindness or wisdom in a situation of life. That is the fragrance of Christ.
vs. 3 and 4 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
Notice here that the Scripture doesn’t say God will remove our troubles, or rescue us from them. It says He will comfort us in them. He is the Father of compassion, the Author and Beginner of compassion, and the God of all comfort. He will comfort us in all our troubles. This is a promise, a promise that comes with a responsibility. We must share the comfort we have received with others, giving testimony to His compassion.
vs 4 The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue , to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.
This is a beautiful verse. I think of getting up each morning and spending time in the Word of God. To me, that is the way God gives us an instructed tongue. By studying His love letter to us, and getting to know Him, He gives us the words that sustain the weary. It is He Who wakens our ears and quickens our spirit that we may hear and learn. We are like students in a classroom with God as our teacher. Sometimes, we study basic Christianity. Other times we study advanced archeology, genealogy or the Greek language. The reason for it all is to equip us as His ambassadors to have an instructed tongue to share the words that sustain the weary.
So many promises to Israel, to Jerusalem and , by adoption, to us. vs. 7 The Lord is the Redeemer, the Holy One Who is faithful, Who has chosen you. vs. 8 I will answer you and in the day of salvation, I will help you. I will keep you. vs 10 He Who has compassion will guide and lead them beside springs of water. vs 12 The Lord comforts His people and has compassion on His afflicted ones. vs 15 I will never forget you. vs 25 I will contend with those who contend with you. vs 26 I, The Lord, am your Saviour, I am your Redeemer.
They did not thirst when he led them through the deserts; he made water flow for then from the rock; he split the rock and water gushed out.
This verse leaped off the page at me. How many times in a season of struggle or trauma has a friend stood by you like a lighthouse helping you find your way? How many times has the Lord provided a special verse, or a biblical truth that is an anchor in your storm? That is the Lord, leading you through the desert AND providing Living Water for your thirst.