Scripture reading – 2 Corinthians 7
We continue our study of Paul’s second epistle to believers in Corinth with today’s Scripture reading, 2 Corinthians 7. The verses prior to this portion were a practical directive all believers should heed (6:14-17). Concerning consorting or partnering with unbelievers, Paul admonished, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (6:14)
The matter of a yoke hearkens to the tool which would have been borne by oxen in tandem working a farmer’s field. Scriptures forbid a farmer attempting to work a field with an ox and an ass (Deuteronomy 22:10; Leviticus 19:19). The natures and temperaments of those beasts are different, as are their gaits. An unequal tandem of beasts would cause chaffing to their necks, and prove detrimental to their work and well-being.
The same is true when believers make an unwise decision to yoke with unbelievers in an endeavor or enterprise. Sadly, some believers violate Paul’s admonition, and learn those who love righteousness cannot fellowship with the unrighteous (6:14). In the same way light and darkness do not coexist, the believer who disregards Paul’s warning of being unequally yoked, will find “unequal” marriages, families, and businesses experiencing the consequences of being spiritually “unequally yoked” (6:14). Then, calling upon believers to “come out from among [unbelievers], and be ye separate” (6:17), God promised, “I will receive you, 18And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (6:17b-18).
Keeping in mind God’s promise to accept believers as His spiritual “sons and daughters” (6:18), Paul declared the Lord’s expectations for believers to cleanse themselves from sin, and live holy lives “in the fear of God” (7:1).
Murmurings, complaining, and criticisms are the lot of all in leadership, and the church is certainly no exception. Apparently, there were some in the congregation who had taken offense from Paul’s strong words in his first letter. Pained by their response, Paul encouraged those estranged believers to be reconciled to him (7:2-6). In his defense, he declared, “we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man” (7:2). Paul continued, “I speak not this to condemn you: for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts to die and live with you” (7:3).
What a wonderful expression of a spiritual shepherd’s love for his flock! Yes, he of necessity rebuked the Corinthians for tolerating gross wickedness in the congregation (1 Corinthians 5). Nevertheless, his strong words rose from the heart of a minister who loved them, and would give his life for them (7:3). Some must have accused Paul of being unloving in his first letter. To them, he affirmed, “Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation” (7:4).
Closing thoughts (7:5-6) – I fear the culture of the 21st century has little tolerance for preachers who dare confront the prevalent sins of our day. Tragically, there are many pastors unwilling to contend with the sins and failings of their congregation. Their failure has perpetuated a carnality that is destroying lives, marriages, families, and institutions.
If your church is blessed to have pastors and teachers like Paul, who are willing to confront sin—be thankful, for there are few willing to do so. Unloving, some might accuse; however, remember, the apostle Paul was not spared from the same accusation.
So much more might be written concerning chapter 7, but I will save those observations for another time.
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