2 Corinthians 7-8 B

What’s the difference between shame and guilt?

In chapter 7, Paul is expressing his joy in the ‘godly sorrow’ that his letter produced in the church of Corinth:

“Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.” 7:9-10

Guilt is the feeling that comes when you’re convicted of your sin. You know the feeling. It’s the way your heart sinks when you hear yourself blatantly lying. Distractions and escapism can help a little, but it’s the weighted feeling that keeps you up at night or haunts your relationships. It’s what washes over you when you indulge in your addictions or purposely hurt someone. It’s acknowledging “what I did was bad”.

Shame is also the result of sin, but lingers around after repentance and reconciliation. It’s a lie that says “you are bad, and nothing can help you”. And like Paul said, it results in spiritual death. It isolates you. It strangles your communication with God. It pulls you out of community. Shame is a liar.

Jesus relentlessly went after people bogged down by shame. The woman at the well (John 4). The hemorrhaging woman, desperately grabbing at his cloak, yet too afraid to face him (Mark 5). The children, scolded by the disciples as obnoxious (Matthew 19).

The very first time mankind experiences shame, God combats it by pulling a devastated Adam and Eve out of the bushes and clothing them (Genesis 3).

The lie of shame is “there’s no answer for your sin” and the Voice of Truth tells us “I am the answer to your sin”. 

Is there sin in your life you need to repent of?

Is there sin that you have repented of, but still have some lingering shame because of it? Listen to the Voice of Truth!



2 Corinthians 5-6 B

“For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” (5:14-15‬)

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” (5:20‬)

A beautiful thing has happened: life has been extended to mankind on a new level. The curse of death has lost a sting, and we can all now live as reconciled to God. Our Creator has sent His Messiah. The depths and implications of this are what we are all seeking to uncover more and more every day of our lives. It is profoundly good and marvelously constructed.

How do you need to be reconciled to God, today? Is there something you’re putting between yourself and Him? Is there something you’re not wanting to surrender? How could your connection with the LORD be also live giving to others?

Take the extra time to re-read and meditate on chapter five. I had to read it a few times and I will continue to think about it throughout the day.

What does it look like to be His ambassador and to demonstrate to others what’s its like to be reconciled?


2 Corinthians 3-4 B

All of Paul’s talk about being unveiled had me thinking back to Moses’ illuminated face. It’s how I feel coming back from summer camp or a church retreat, or after closing a theology-rich Timothy Keller book; I feel like my face is glowing. But eventually, just like Moses’ brightened face, it dulls.

During a spiritual high, I can adjust my behavior and correct my mistakes quickly. It feels like I’m changed! But eventually, I stop correcting myself and lose interest in a regular discipline of being on my best behavior. Whatever influenced this change was only skin-deep.

It’s normal to have ups and downs in your spiritual life, and I’ve been learning to give myself more, grace more often. Are we ever really changed?

Paul reminds us today that there is freedom and ultimate change in Christ. And what’s different between Moses’ experience with God and ours is that we are possessed by God’s Spirit. He doesn’t just change our problems, his Helper heals them. The gospel is inviting us to free ourselves from sin, not just address the symptoms.

 “For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. “ 3:17-18

Spiritual growth is not temporary behavior modification. It’s becoming more like Jesus, an experience that never fades away!

Do you find yourself becoming more and more like Jesus? If so, how? If not, take a minute and reflect on what is preventing it.




2 Corinthians 1-2 B

I went back and watched the Bible Project Overview for this letter (we don’t always include those links anymore, because we assume y’all know about it as a resource by now). It was helpful to frame the context of this letter and understand the dynamic which had formed between Paul and this church. They are not buddy o’ pals.

The Corinthian church culture is all too relate-able. The tendency to be attracted to successful looking leaders (you know, the ones with book deals and cool podcasts and maybe even a helicopter), to view wealth as a sign of God’s blessing, and to be choosy about which aspects of Jesus’ example to follow or ignore… are things we can often find in ourselves and those around us.

When becoming more like Jesus equals unbridled self-sacrifice, it’s not going to be attractive to someone who hasn’t been touched by His Spirit.

“For we are not like many, peddling the word of God.” (2:17)

Expense communicates value, in many cultures around the world. If something is free it is usually synonymous with cheap. So when smooth talkers, selling spiritual insight, roll into town with their fancy clothes, they look like they might carry a more valuable message. That is, until you understand what Christ-likeness resembles.

Paul could easily say, per my last mail: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-6)

This letter is all about making the connection between a Christian’s life and generosity. Who around you today can be the lucky recipient of your generous love?


1 Corinthians 15-16 B

“Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” 16:13

I really like this. Spiritual strength is described as exercising caution, showing faithfulness, acting mature and being loving. It’s not acting harsh, being self-seeking, putting others down or disregarding feelings.

Let all that you do be done in love. How do I fold laundry this way? How do I tell someone I need to cut them out of my life because they’re toxic, lovingly? How do I create boundaries with people? How do I, for the ten hundredth time, tell my son he cannot have a snack three minutes before dinner, with love?

Some of those things have obvious answers, but sometimes it’s not just a tone of voice, it’s a posture of the heart.

Think of a time today when you responded poorly to someone, or were doing something with selfish motives. How could you have handled it differently?

Were you putting yourself first?



1 Corinthians 13-14 B

“If then I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be to the one who speaks a barbarian, and the one who speaks will be a barbarian to me.” (14:11)

Hidden among a context of doing everything in love–and remembering exactly what love looks like–I find this hilariously relate-able verse about being around a foreign language. The NASB (our most literal English translation) quotes Paul as calling a foreign language speaker a Barbarian. This is funny, because back then, the Greeks fancied themselves the highest of society, and non-Greeks were Barbarians. Anyone outside the Greco-Roman culture was considered unrefined or inferior: Barbaric. The NASB straight up translates the word “Barbarian” to “Foreigner”.

Paul is driving the point home, that if someone is off speaking tongues in a way that doesn’t edify the whole of the congregation, they sound like an inferior, unrefined, fill-in-the-blank-foreigner-you-feel-better-than. Funny how most people can think of some group of people who seem “barbaric” by comparison, and the poor folks over at NIV just used the word “foreigners”, because it’s super base-line human to look down on people who are different from you, whom you don’t understand.

This might seem super off topic from the point of these verses, but hey, this is just me reporting my thoughts on the daily readings, right? There’s no compulsion to have the same cliche take-a-ways every time! Feel free to notice bizarre things!

I’ve spent a lot of the last couple years being the Barbarian-Foreigner who doesn’t know whats going on. That’s okay. I can take that heat for however long. The point is there is a language we all understand. It’s international. It’s love.

Whenever you start “doing church” in a self-serving way, that maybe only makes sense to you and maybe also your friends, its not helpful. You’re being Barbaric to the rest of the group. Don’t exclude people. Love draws in. Love longs to communicate understanding and worth. Love takes the long way for the sake of deeper relationship and quality time. Love turns foreigners into friends.

Who sounds Barbaric to you? Who might find you Barbaric? How can you move toward that person/group in love?


1 Corinthians 11-12 B

Beth and I spent a little time studying and discussing the eucharist (communion? I don’t know) this weekend, so naturally that part of today’s chapters felt highlighted to me. I’m still thinking it over, mostly about how much I misunderstand it or make it obsolete.

Communion is often served towards the end of church, and at the church service I attended, we ‘took’ it every week. Very seldom did I feel connected to the ritual, distracted as I waited in line with other church attendants to ‘receive the elements’. I was often hungry and imagining what my lunch would soon be, or wrangling a squirmy kid in my arms or trying to hyper-spiritualize the sermon I just heard. At one point, I took on the role of preparing the communion table before each church service and soon it was hard to see it as anything other than the store-bought bread I quickly tore into pieces and the processed grape juice I sloshed out of a plastic jug. Most times at the table, I tried really hard to engage. Confess my sins? Acknowledge the cross? Stay seated in my chair if I have any remote unreconciled things in my life? Am I doing this right?

Rohr reflected on how the church often approaches communion as a ceremony instead of the ritual it was intended to be. The former is more of a religious event and the latter is a participation; you’re engaging in the action. I can’t say this cleared things up for me once and for all, actually, it introduced even more confusion. But I’ve enjoyed mulling it over the past couple days, and invite you to do the same.

Paul makes this sticky piece of tape even stickier for me:

“So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died. But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way. Yet when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world.” 11:17-33

What’s clear (in my muddy theology) is that we shouldn’t do anything robotically for God. He doesn’t want us to perform religious ceremonies for him, he wants us to engage in meaningful rituals with a sincere heart. Who can approach the communion table with true innocence? No one. But we are all welcome to come, acknowledge where we stand with God and take part in what Christ’s offers us.

It’s hard to examine yourself. Your life, tendencies, relationships, storage closets and habits all contain mess, and the more you start to unpack it, the more you find. We often turn up any noise as loud as we can to avoid self-reflection. Of course, the Bible calls us to something quite counter-cultural. Being still. Quieting our hearts. And reflecting.

So, come to the table and have a look. You are not alone; Jesus is sitting down for the meal as well.




1 Corinthians 9-10 B

Carly did a great job with these verses last time.

In chapter ten, Paul dives into his “rights”, which feels very relate-able to Americans. But then things take a turn. He doesn’t cite these rights in order to employ them, he recognizes them in order to lay them down.

This is the heartbeat of following Christ, “who being in very nature, God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.” (Philippians 2:6-7)

Disciples of Jesus are marked by the race to out-serve one another; having advantages in order to pass them on. It’s all about considering others: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important that yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

I keep coming back to the idea of the Christian expression being the opposite of self preservation. Paul is saying, “I have rights, but I’m laying them down for your advantage. Now, consider your own rights and how you can lay them down for others too.” Edification is always the goal.

What are the rights you can lay down in order to demonstrate the gospel to those around you?


1 Corinthians 7-8 B

Paul leaves out a lot about the sanctification of marriage, but he’s not wrong about what a distraction it is. It claims a lot of your time and energy, and can easily detract from focusing on your identity in Christ. There have been a few wedding announcements I’ve winced at, worried about my gospel-fueled friend whose attention would now be turned towards a needy spouse.

I also know a decent amount of single people who fixate their prayer life, energy and time on trying to find someone to marry. Waiting for their life to begin once they finally tie the knot.

I think Paul’s point is this: sexual and relational intimacy should enhance our life, not rule it. 

Marriage was never it for me, and I thought it sounded rather boring to be tethered to the same person my entire life. Until I met Matt. I couldn’t get down the aisle fast enough!

Ideally, on a good day, being married to him brings me closer to knowing and behaving like Christ. Our gifts complement each other and we work together as a perfect, unified team that seamlessly exemplifies the image of Christ and the church. Most days, though, I’m too wrapped up in my identity as his wife or annoyed he’s not meeting my every need.

“Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you.” 7:17

I like this verse, and I want to be better at coming back to it.

Be present where he has you, but don’t forget what he has called you to.



1 Corinthians 5-6 B

“Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren.” (6:7-8)

I am convinced the number one piece of evidence for someone being a true follower of Christ is how they reject self-preservation. Jesus leads us into outrageous self-sacrifice and generosity. In an unexpected twist, we often discover the richest and deepest blessings in those practices.

The natural tendency of humanity is to throw each other under the bus and save our own tushes. Adam threw Eve under the bus with alarming speed and ease. Jesus came along as the NEW ADAM and broke the cycle of death, by going under the bus Himself.

Therefore, it is fundamentally contradicting to claim discipleship of Christ and then also attack your fellow man. It is better to be wronged, better to be defrauded, than take down another person. This is the way of Christ.

Are you currently battling someone? What feels at stake if you lose? What is at stake if they lose? What would it look like to choose being wronged? It’s okay if that idea sucks, just talk to the LORD about it and see what His Spirit can do.