“I made up my mind not to make another painful visit … I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you.”2 Corinthians 2:1, 4 ESV
Paul cared about the believers in Corinth. This was not superficial compassion but a genuine concern. He expressed the depth of his feelings with words filled with emotion. Paul conveyed emotions such as sadness and gladness, pain and joy, suffering and rejoicing, anguish, and abundant love.
Paul acknowledged that, during an earlier visit, he had caused the Corinthians pain. As he contemplated a new visit, Paul remembered what he had written previously, when he wrote out of the affliction and anguish of his heart with many tears. This shows the love he had for them. His feelings were intense.
Many people go through life thinking about people like statistics. They don’t see souls for whom Christ died, but they focus on numbers instead. Some people may have a measure of concern for others but then forget about them easily. Their interest is shallow with little depth.
Our lives change when we are transformed by God’s Spirit and controlled by the love of Christ (Colossians 3:12). Then our hearts will burn with compassion for others. We will see people through the lens of love. We will genuinely care about them. We will have a real concern for each person. Our feelings will be inspired by the Spirit, expressed through the heart.
Allow God to give you genuine compassion for others – both friends and foes, saved and unsaved, neighbors, and people in other lands.
Father, here are people I’ve had a hard time loving: _______. I commit them to You. Give me a real love for them and others. In Jesus’ name, amen.