In Second Corinthians 7:16, Paul said to the Corinthians, “I rejoice that in everything I have confidence in you.” That must have felt wonderful to the Corinthians, who had previously received a scathing letter from Paul. Even though First Corinthians was filled with many corrections and rebukes, Paul wrote of his confidence in them shortly afterward. What caused Paul to switch from potent discipline to proud praise?
Paul wrote First Corinthians to deal with several doctrinal errors (see 1 Cor. 1:10ff) and to answer some questions that the Corinthian church had posed (see 1 Cor. 7:1). He used a corrective tone because he loved them. In First Corinthians 13, Paul discussed the topic of love at length, stating that everything a Christian does is only worth doing if love is the motivating factor. Paul’s love for their souls is the reason he corrected them so sternly in First Corinthians.
Second Corinthians displays the emotional toll Paul endured as he waited to hear how the Corinthians had received his previous letter (see 2 Cor. 2:13; 7:6-7). Upon receiving Titus’ report, that the Corinthians had responded in humble obedience to the truth, Paul was relieved and rejoiced over them.
Paul had predicted their faith-filled response, even boasting to Titus before he went to them (see 2 Cor. 7:14-15). When the Corinthians responded in their predictable, faithful, and sincere manner, Paul’s boasts were proven true, and Paul’s confidence in them grew. Then Paul proclaimed, “I rejoice that in everything I have confidence in you.”
Do you want others to have confidence in you? Paul had confidence in the Corinthians because they reliably behaved faithfully toward God. If you want others to have that same confidence in you, you must form the same habit: Listen to God’s instruction through His Word and humbly obey Him.