The Heart of a Godly Leader: Part 2

Hope for Today (English)
Hope for Today (English)
The Heart of a Godly Leader: Part 2
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II Cor. 1:23-2:11 

We are honored to be with you today, thank you for joining us. Last week we had the first session about the heart of a Godly leader and this week we will continue our teaching on this topic. We are looking at the qualities that show the heart of a Godly leader. Last week’s qualities were he thinks carefully and loves deeply. Today J Mark will finish teaching about loving deeply and share the third quality, he forgives graciously.  

Before we start today’s teaching, here is a leadership lesson from Jesus for you to think about. He said it when the disciples were irritated at James and John, and it goes against what most people think leadership is. Jesus said we are not supposed to lord our authority over our subjects, but rather we should serve them. He said, “Whoever wants to become great among you, must be your servant.” What? A leader must be the biggest servant!  Yes, that is leading like Jesus, and we must pay attention because He was the greatest leader ever.  

Now let’s turn to Second Corinthians and finish the teaching on the heart of a Godly leader.    

Our text today is Second Corinthians 1:23 through 2:11. One reason Paul wrote this letter was to defend his apostolic authority to a rebellious minority in the Corinthian church. Another reason was to strengthen the faithful Believers there. For these reasons, Paul’s letter becomes deeply personal as he shares experiences and information that prove his apostolic authority. 

So, listen now as I read the text, Second Corinthians 1:23 through 2:11. 

23 Moreover I call God as witness against my soul, that to spare you I came no more to Corinth.  

24 Not that we have dominion over your faith but are fellow workers for your joy; for by faith, you stand. 

1But I determined this within myself, that I would not come again to you in sorrow.  

2 For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me? 

3 And I wrote this very thing to you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow over those from whom I ought to have joy, having confidence in you all that my joy is the joy of you all.  

4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you. 

5 But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent—not to be too severe.  

6 This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man,  

7 so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow.  

8 Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him.  

9 For to this end I also wrote that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things.  

10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ,  

11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. 

In this text, Paul demonstrates the QUALITIES that show us “The Heart of a Godly Leader.” As Christ-followers, you and I are challenged to develop these qualities regardless of our position. 

Another QUALITY (that shows the heart of a godly leader) is, 

He Loves Deeply 

As I mentioned earlier, this second letter to the Corinthians is deeply personal. In verse 4, Paul shares his struggle to find the best way to relate to them. The language he uses describes intense emotions. His first letter was written with many tears and with many anxious moments about how it would be received. Paul’s word choice describing his anguish of heart suggests the idea of choking or squeezing; something like a panic attack.  

But Paul didn’t want these intense emotions to grieve his readers. He wanted them to see his emotions as proof of his deep and abiding love for them. In his first letter, he had admonished them on what do to in the case of the man who was involved in an incestuous relationship. He may be revisiting that situation in verse five, but his language is very delicate. It’s also possible that he’s referring to the leader of the party in Corinth that was opposing him. In either case, he doesn’t name the offender or the offense.  

The whole church was grieved and injured by this man’s sin. But Paul wants to avoid unnecessary pain to the church members or the offender by using language that’s too severe. He acknowledges the offender’s guilt, but he doesn’t want to add to their sorrow. I confess that sometimes in situations like this, I take an ungodly delight in the public shame of those caught in their sins. That’s what the Pharisees did when they brought the adulterous woman to Jesus. But Paul wasn’t like that. Even in the process of correction, he loves the Corinthians deeply. I need God’s grace to love my brothers and sisters like that, especially the erring ones. 

This erring brother, regardless of who he was, was disciplined by the members of the congregation. And as I understand Jesus’ teaching in Matthew chapter 18, that’s the way it is supposed to be done. The responsibility for discipline rests primarily on the congregation. Church leaders should guide the process, but they don’t make the final decision. Paul says the sentence was sufficient and that it achieved the desired effect. In other words, it brought the offender to repentance. How do we know that’s true?  

If this wasn’t the case, Paul’s next counsel would’ve been different. Evidently, some struggled to forgive this brother. Paul encourages them not to cause more pain by distancing themselves from him and refusing his fellowship. Instead, he tells them to forgive him, comfort him, and encourage him. Yes, he was set aside for a time (perhaps excommunicated), but now he needs to be restored. Otherwise, he may become so discouraged that he gives up. Paul doesn’t want this brother to drown in his sorrows. So, he implores the Believers to restore this man to full fellowship as a confirmation of their love for him and proof of their obedience to Paul’s spiritual authority.  

As I studied this quality of loving deeply, I was made aware of how much room I have to grow, especially in the context of correction and discipline in the church. Paul’s deep love for the Corinthians shows us another quality of the heart of a godly leader. It is a quality that all of us should strive to develop. So, a godly leader thinks carefully and loves deeply.  

The Final QUALITY (that shows the heart of a godly leader) is, 

He Forgives Graciously 

As we move to verse ten, the original text begins with a common conjunction that isn’t in our English translations. It seems Paul is contrasting his test of their obedience, in verse 9, with his willingness to recognize their decision regarding the offending brother.  

Paul recognizes the authority of the gathered body to carry out discipline, even though they may not have followed his instructions exactly. A wise and godly leader doesn’t demand that everything be done exactly as he says it should be. He is willing to compromise on the details of the process to reach the right outcome. His main concern is that the repentant person is welcomed and fully restored to the community of Believers.  

Paul reminds them “What I also have pardoned, if I have pardoned anything (I have pardoned it) for your sakes.” There seems to be an intentional vagueness to what Paul wrote. This may be his attempt to avoid wounded feelings. Cases of church discipline can be notoriously difficult to navigate. So, Paul just says “I have accepted your decision for your sake.” He forgave the offending brother for their sake, and he forgave them for not explicitly following his instructions in the process.  

Again, we see the heart of a godly leader wanting the very best for his people. The gathered Body represents the “presence of Christ,” according to Jesus’ teaching in Matthew chapter eighteen. And even though Paul wasn’t present with them in body, he was present with them in the Spirit, looking on at what they were doing.  

Paul then closes with a warning to the Corinthian Believers that you and I should take seriously. To withhold forgiveness in the face of genuine repentance is to give Satan, our adversary, an opportunity to bring division and destruction into the Church, the Body of Christ.  

Part of forgiving graciously is to find the balance between justice and mercy. Paul implies that if the sentence against the offender is too severe, it could result in permanent loss to the body. He warns us to beware of Satan’s schemes. One of Satan’s chief schemes is “divide and conquer.” Sadly, he can do this in a variety of ways. For example, he uses people’s ignorance of their spiritual gifting.  

Someone with the gift of mercy and someone with the gift of prophecy may want to reach the same goal, but they’re going to approach that goal from almost opposite directions. Without an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of their gifts, they will see each other as being on opposing teams rather than on the same team. Satan will do all he can to foster those misunderstandings. We must resist him with all of the strength we have in Christ!  

I have observed many church struggles from a distance and a few from personal involvement. Many times, leadership, by not demonstrating these qualities we’ve looked at, has compounded the problem. That’s unfortunate. Hasty reactions, more concern for appearance rather than substance, and an unwillingness to forgive never lead to godly results. 

But it doesn’t mean the issue can’t be resolved. It does mean that leaders need to humbly admit their failures. It also means that those who aren’t in leadership need to develop and embrace these qualities, especially with their leaders. I know that can be hard, but if we refuse to do that, Satan surely will get an advantage over us.  

I urge you to take some time for a personal evaluation of these qualities in your life regardless of your position, especially if you’re a leader.  

Do you take time to think carefully about the situation at hand? Do you weigh the impact of your words carefully? Someone recently counseled me to be more thoughtful about how my comments affect those around me.  

Do you love others deeply? Or are you more concerned about yourself and what people think of you? Do people know that, despite some failures, you have their best interests in your heart? Do you weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice?  

And finally, do you forgive graciously? Jesus told us that offenses are inevitable, they will happen. But how do you respond? Are you able to fully forgive those who offend you? Are you willing to compromise the process to maintain principle? Are you willing to accept the decision of the congregation as valid, even though your plans weren’t followed to the letter?  

Can you see how important these qualities are in the heart of a godly leader? Most of us have no problem seeing that. Our challenge is to see how important these qualities are in our lives, and then to act accordingly. May God grant us the desire and power to think carefully, love deeply, and forgive graciously.   

Thanks, J Mark for sharing this teaching from God’s Word. We trust that you have been blessed. The vision of Heralds of Hope is to use media, and radio, in this case, to make disciples of Jesus Christ to accomplish the great commission in our lifetime. As disciples of Jesus, we want to be like Him, and to be like Him we study His Word. So, thank you for joining us for today’s study.    

If you have any questions about today’s teaching or if you like a copy. Just contact us and ask for it by title. Here is how you can reach us. The best way is by email. Our email is [email protected]. If you don’t have an email, you can write to us, our address is Hope for Today, Box 3 Breezewood, Pennsylvania 15533. Or you can connect with us on our website. Our website is heraldsofhope.org. On our website you will find other helpful resources and more teaching programs like this one, so please look around while you are there. Again, the website is heraldsofhope.org.  

We look forward to next week and hope you will join us then as we study the next section in II Corinthians. Have a good week and as Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.” Go live in that joy and peace.

*This episode is an exposition by J. Otis Yoder, re-recorded by J. Mark Horst, with an opening and closing by Arlin Horst. 

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