Repair, Don’t Replace
Make room for us in your hearts … I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. 2 Corinthians 7:2-3
One of the pedestals of our glass-topped cherry dining table was broken. Lacking the necessary tools and supplies to replace the fractured leg, my husband decided to repair the table I treasured. I assumed it would be an easy fix: a generous dollop of wood glue and a clamp. But I was wrong. Mending the valuable centerpiece of our dining set required ingenuity, patience and intensive labor.
Broken relationships are similar. We may assume an “I’m sorry” will be a simple fix. But repairing relationships also requires ingenuity, patience and labor, along with generous amounts of love. The theological term is reconcile – to bring back to a former state of harmony.*
In 2 Corinthians 6-7, Paul attempted to repair his relationship with the church at Corinth. The inspired words he used provide guidelines to follow when we undertake the complicated process of reconciliation.
First, Paul assured the Corinthians of the purity of his motives. It may seem Paul was bragging about all the hardships he had endured (6:3-10). However, his point was this: Why would my colleagues and I have willingly submitted to all these things if our motives were selfish? Our suffering on Christ’s behalf, and yours, demonstrates our sincerity. Step one: clarify your motives.
Second, Paul said, “We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and have opened wide our hearts to you” (6:11). The goal, he said, was to speak God’s truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). Maybe that hadn’t come across in the previous letter, but that was his intent (7:8). Step two: communicate your love.
Third, Paul affirmed them. “I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you” (7:4). In the rest of chapter 7, he explained the reasons for his pride. They had been gracious to Titus, Paul’s co-worker, they had repented of their wrongdoing, and they were eager to do what was right (vv. 7-13). Step three: conclude with affirmation.
Paul didn’t want the debris of broken relationships to become a “stumbling block in anyone’s path” to God or to discredit his testimony as God’s servant (6:3). God desires that we repair relationships rather than replace them. Is that our desire as well?
Read 2 Corinthians 7:1-16. List all the positive comments Paul made about the Corinthians. Who can you encourage with similar affirmations today?
Read Colossians 1:19-23. What does this passage teach us about the cost of reconciliation? What is the goal of reconciliation according to verse 22?
Do you remember all the steps Joseph took to reconcile with his brothers? Take time this week to read Genesis 42:1-45:15. You might also want to read Joseph, Parts One and Two under Dig into People of the Bible.
Other Dig Deeper Devotions that address relationships are under Controversy and Edify in Dig into Words.
Denise K. Loock
*”Greek Lexicon :: G604 (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 21 Aug, 2014. http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G604&t=KJV