2 Corinthians 1 & 2: Reconciliation Motivated by Unconditional Love and Complete Confidence
Key Verses: (from 2 Corinthians 1–2)
7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort. (1:7)
13 For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand. And I hope that, 14 as you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus. (1:13–14)
23 I call God as my witness — and I stake my life on it — that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. 24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm. (1:23–24)
3 I wrote as I did, so that when I came I would not be distressed by those who should have made me rejoice. I had confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy. (2:3)
In the Corinthian church, Paul is dealing with people who are divided and in some cases even condoning sinful behavior. These are people who need to be motivated to return to harmony with each other. The word “reconciliation” connotes a stronger end result than the word “resolution”. These people needed to experience reconciliation, or harmony, with each other as opposed to resolution of their disputes. Reconciliation is a far stronger outcome than resolution would imply.
Paul motivates them with expressed love and confidence rather than angry talk or fear of consequences. There are numerous verses in 2 Corinthians in which Paul expresses his sincere and unconditional love for the Corinthians and his confidence in them.
How often in our daily lives have we experienced differing techniques to attempt to motivate people! A coach who berates his players and thereby humiliates them in front of their teammates is trying to motivate them to improve their performance. A boss who threatens to fire someone is misguidedly attempting to motivate through fear. Parents who compare one child’s performance against another’s are attempting to motivate them by creating competition among siblings. A spouse who criticizes hopes to bring about positive change.
Even though the Corinthians may not deserve Paul’s unconditional love and confidence, Paul motivates them and brings them into harmony in the same way God wants us to treat one another and provide encouragement. None of our human techniques seem to work very well. They don’t produce harmony; rather, they often generate further alienation and dysfunctional relationships.
God’s way — through expressions of unconditional love and complete confidence — as Paul demonstrated, is far more effective and likely to result in true reconciliation.
A Moment to Reflect
Think about your own experiences as a child with your parents, with teachers and later with your bosses or with your spouse. How have people tried to motivate you? Was it successful, or did it actually demotivate you? Then consider the ways in which you have tried to motivate others. In the future, will you try God’s way of motivating or reconciling through unconditional love and complete confidence?