to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice *
November 19, 2019 – Tuesday
2 Corinthians 2:9 NIV
9 Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything.
What was the test Paul was referencing? This verse is from a group of verses put into paragraph form in both the NIV and ESV (among others) that read as follows (NIV) with the titles Forgiveness for the Offender and Forgive the Sinner respectively
5 If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. 6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. 9 Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
So the test is can the Corinthians forgive and love a repentant brother? Easy to say you can do so, not so easy in practice often times, thus the test. Peter Pett writes He [Paul] assures them that the main reason that he had written the severe letter to them was not in order to obtain punishment for the man, but so that he could test out their own obedience to him as an Apostle, ‘in all things’, not just what they chose to accept. That was what really mattered. He was not out for revenge. Rather he had wanted to find out if they would again respond to his authority and follow his instructions about everything he had written. And it had turned out well.
Think about it. We eagerly embrace the Grace, the forgiveness, offered to each of us by Jesus, but we all too often hang on to feelings of hurt, anger, resentment, and more while withholding granting forgiveness in full. Instead we forgive in words, but not in actions or in our heart. We know when we do this because we really know our own hearts.
So Paul puts them to the test. Can they forgive, truly forgive and affirm their love for the person who so aggrieved them. Can they forgive and comfort him or her? We should read Paul’s words to the Corinthians and apply the same test to ourselves. Can we as individuals forgive and comfort someone who has sinned against us, but has since repented? Can we?
Consider your own sins that God has forgiven, then ask yourself how could God really and truly forgive them? Then knowing that He has done so, realize He asks the same of us for those who have sinned against us. Jesus was more explicit than Paul in this when He said
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. (Mark 11:24-25)
What is your reply to Jesus? Will you forgive?
(to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice)
* Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)