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  • Paul is continuing his praise of the Corinthians, building on his statement from the end of the last chapter about God's promises.

    Since we have this promise of God, that when we are redeemed we are free from sin, let's stay away from all filthiness of the body and the spirit and work toward perfection in the eyes of God.

    Listen to me, children. I haven't wronged anyone, I haven't corrupted anyone, and I haven't lied to anyone in my ministry.

    I am not accusing you of anything, dear brothers and sisters, I know already we will walk together in both this world and the next. I tell everyone I meet how proud I am of you, how you are living witnesses to the glory and mercy of God. Your example gives me great comfort, even when I face trouble and confrontation.

    When I went to Macedonia, I could barely breathe. There were so many there who stood against me. I was in constant turmoil, and I often feared for my life. But our God sent me comfort when He sent Titus to me. He told me how you had turned from your sins, were sorrowful for your behavior, and sent your love to me. When I heard this, I rejoiced even more for your redemption.

    I knew I shamed you with my letter, and I do not regret that, but I do regret that you think I still disapprove of your actions. I want you to know I rejoice that the letter caused you to listen to the Holy Spirit and repent of your sins. That shame turned your hearts to repent and embrace your salvation. The sins you were committing would have led you to death.

    Your shame brought you to understand the importance of your witness, the need to be right with our Lord and with one another, the importance of your witness to non-believers. You have turned away from worldly desires; lust, revenge, avarice and greed.

    This is why I wrote what I did, not to condemn you or rob you of your salvation, but to encourage you to repentance and reconciliation with our Lord.

    I am both pleased and excited at what Titus has told me and how this has lifted both his spirit and mine. Now I know my praise of you to others will not make me ashamed, but will glorify our Lord and His ministry. Titus has confirmed what the Holy Spirit has told me in my heart.

    Titus has nothing but praise for you all. He speaks so highly of your church and your ministry. And in this I am rejoicing constantly for your repentance and your joy in the Lord, our God.

    You make me so proud!

    After the previous letter, you may look back and wonder if Paul is really speaking to the same people. Talk about a complete one eighty! From being chewed out for fraternizing with the local temples and participating in all sorts of worldly activities, the Corinthians have become model Christians. Titus can't say enough about them. And Paul is pleased beyond words. Well, almost beyond words.

    But what you need to notice is that Paul isn't taking the credit. He refers to his previous letter as simply the poke in the ribs that motivated the Corinthians to reassess their connection with the Holy Spirit. Paul gives the Holy Spirit the credit for the turn around. And he's right in doing so.

    This is the difference between what I call “Churchianity” and Christianity. Being a Christian doesn't have to do with where you worship or what name you call yourself, or even the name you call God. Being a Christian has to do with what you do.

    When you are truly a Christian, you follow the example of Jesus. You love without conditions, you forgive without limitations, and you judge no one.

    We know that judgment is the domain of God, not man. We know that God forgave man time and time again, and finally offered Himself in human form to give us the ultimate forgiveness. We know that such an act could only be the act of someone who loves us more than He loves Himself.

    If you call yourself a Christian or a Buddhist, or any name by which religion calls itself these days, you might want to remember these three principles are not exclusive to one faith. They are the ultimate signs of a truly enlightened person.

    I hope you are having a blessed and introspective day.

    Fred
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