After describing the folly of Christians "binding" themselves to non-Christians, Paul returns to expressing his desire for a close relationship with the Christians in Corinth. (6:11-13 and 7:2)
It is likely that the false teachers in Corinth had put a wedge between Paul and the Corinthian church by accusing him of manipulating or taking advantage of others. Paul defends himself in this regard so that the Corinthians won't be wary of him and remain relationally distant. (v. 2)
Paul's motivation was not to shame the Corinthians into loving him. This wasn't a guilt trip. He loved them deeply and so wanted what was best for them. (A willingness to die with someone was one of the deepest expressions of love in Greco-Roman culture.) (v. 3)
This is the kind of relationship we should aim to cultivate with a local church. A relationship in which we can speak openly (6:11), be vulnerable and invest emotionally (v.2) without fear of manipulation or finger wagging (v.2-3).
Despite the correction Paul had to give to the Corinthian church, he expresses confidence and pride in them as well as encouragement, despite the personal difficulties he was experiencing at the time he wrote this letter to them. This is because of the report he received from Titus, Paul's assistant, describing how the Corinthians responded to Paul's last letter, in which he confronted them about some sinful behavior in their community.
The end of verse 4 finally brings us out of Paul's "great digression" and back to where he left off in chapter 2, Verse 13.
While having a difficult time with his ministry in Macedonia, Paul was comforted by God through Titus. Both his presence and his report about the Corinthian church (and how they had treated Titus) were comforting to Paul.
This is another reason why relationships between Christians are vital. Serving God will come with difficulty. Paul observes in verse 6 that God "comforts the downcast". But God did this for Paul in this instance through human relationships. (v.7)
Next Week- Are bad feeling ever good for us?
Coffee House Question-
What makes you hesitate to develop close Christian relationships? How might you compensate for this?