relationships
Scheduled for study Sept. 9-15, 2019. Relationships – this is the theme of the week. Our lives reflect our relationships, whether they are living letters of recommendations for Christ’s gospel, our relationships with our loved ones, our relationships with our fellow Saints, or with God.

Day 1

2 Corinthians 1-7 – Dealing with correction

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you study Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, write down some of the gospel principles you discover and ponder how you can apply them in your life.

Correction in any form, and from any source, can be painful. And if not given in the spirit of love it can feel hurtful and crushing to the spirit. There are two sides to correction, the giving side and the receiving side. This lesson is more concerned with the receiving side of correction. We can’t really control the giving side, that is up to the person giving it. But we can, and do have a say in how we receive correction, and what we do with it.

Perception is King

When someone corrects us, like Paul corrected the Saints in Corinth, sometimes the words come across as hurtful or calloused. Even if they are meant to be said lovingly, if not done skillfully, devastation can be the result. Even if delivered perfectly, if the person receiving the correction is emotionally fragile, or easily hurt or offended, the same results can happen. It all depends on the perception of the one receiving the correction.

In this week’s set of chapters we learn that Paul wrote to the Saints in Corinth and his correction hurt some people’s feelings. So he spends some time trying to help them see and believe that his intent was not to hurt, but to correct for their own benefit, and that it was done purely out of love for those being corrected. We need to remember that even Jesus caused offense when people were not willing to believe his intentions and took his words at face value, or worse, in any way they were not intended to be taken. If someone really wants to be offended, there is almost nothing you can do to prevent it from happening.

Sometimes our Church leaders – anyone from the Prophet down to our ministering brothers and sisters – say things that we perceive as insensitive or hurtful. How they meant the words and actions to be taken by us is completely irrelevant. What matters is what we do with what we are presented. Brigham Young said this about offense.

He who takes offense when no offense is intended is a fool, and he who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool.

There are those who will be offended just by reading this quote about offense, even when none was intended, and certainly none was directly said to hurt you, personally. That just goes to show that the only person who has any control over offense is the person listening to the words or seeing the action.

Forgiveness

The lessons this week talk extensively about our attitudes towards how we get along with others, either our fellow Saints or God. As you study these chapters in 2 Corinthians, think about what happens inside of you when you find yourself feeling defensive about someone else’s actions or words.

Why are you willing to choose offense over an honest evaluation of what just happened?

How does our personal repentance change how we feel when someone says or does hurtful things?

Why is personal repentance so often part of forgiving others?

Day 2

2 Corinthians 1:3–7; 4:6-10, 17-18; 7:4-7 – My trials can be a blessing.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you study Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, write down some of the gospel principles you discover and ponder how you can apply them in your life.

Paul likes to dance around his phrases. Let’s take a look at the heart of verses 3-7 of chapter 1, which is verse 4.

Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

The main point of this whole passage is that we will suffer tribulations or hardships in this life. Paul tells us that many of these will come because of our efforts to follow Christ. But in verse 4 he mentions a singular opportunity not mentioned in any of the other verses. He says we will have the opportunity to comfort others going through trials through the comfort we ourselves have received through Christ. This is a direct reference to our call to minister to others as God ministers to each of us.

Power and comfort in trials

2 Corinthians 4:6–10 is a wonderful passage. Here it is again (Since I assume you have already read it once). I had to do some pondering on this to try to put verses 6 through 10 into modern language. This is only one way of rewording it. You might find another way to reword it that means more to you. Try it.

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

6. For the power of God that was able to shed light in the darkness of space, has also shined the light of truth on the darkness of our hearts, which has given us the knowledge of the glory of God through His Son, Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

7. We have the treasure of this knowledge within us, who are nothing more than earthen vessels, weak and easily destroyed. God has given us this knowledge that we might be willing to glorify Him and not claim glory of ourselves.

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;

Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;

8-9. It doesn’t matter what happens to us. We can have trouble on every side, be distressed, persecuted, cast down, but no matter what happens, because of the knowledge we have of God we need not despair, we will not be forsaken, will not be destroyed, nor perplexed or confused.

10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

10. We always carry with us our mortal condition that reminds us of the death of Christ that we might be reminded that through the life/resurrection of Christ we will always remember that he offers us that same eternal life. For just as he rose from his death, we too will rise from our death. This is the hope we have in Christ.

So going back to chapter 1 verse 4, when we receive a sense of this hope and comfort in our trials and tribulations, we can share this hope with others as God has shared it with us. This is how we bolster or strengthen the faith and hope of those who may be weaker in the faith, especially during the hard times in their lives.

Day 3

2 Corinthians 2:5–11 – I receive blessings and bless others when I forgive.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you study Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, write down some of the gospel principles you discover and ponder how you can apply them in your life.

Someone in Corinth did something that upset the whole Church in the city. Whatever he did, many of the Saints turned on him and punished him for his behavior. We don’t know who it was, or what it was that happened. We only know that it was bad enough that it reached the ears of the apostle Paul. These verses are Paul’s counsel to the Saints as to how they are to behave in this situation.

Look at the first verse in this passage, verse 5. Does it seem to you that Paul is charging the whole of the Church in Corinth with partial responsibility for what is done with this man who evidently sinned in some way? To me, Paul seems to be saying to them that the man who sinned doesn’t grieve him so much. He seems concerned in verse 5 with how all of them are handling what happened. He then goes on to tell them that the punishment they have meeted out to this man as a group has been enough of a punishment, and now needs to be followed by forgiveness, lest he be swallowed up in the sorrow his sin and his punishment has caused him. In other words, Paul doesn’t want this man to lose his faith and leave the Church because he feels he can’t be forgiven for what he did.

In verses 8 and 9 he is telling them he wants proof from them that they are able and willing to forgive this person. To do that they must confirm to that man their love for him. I was stopped by this word confirm. Here are some additional words that describe what it means to confirm something: “to establish the truth, accuracy, validity, or genuineness of” or “to strengthen (a person) in habit, resolution, opinion,” or “to make firm or more firm; add strength to; settle or establish firmly”.

So when Paul says, “I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him” he is telling the Saints they need to establish in the mind of the person who sinned the truth, validity, or genuineness of their love for him. They have acknowledged his guilt, now they need to make sure he not only has an intellectual knowledge of their love for him, but that he believes their love for him with his whole soul.

Isn’t this what is supposed to happen when we repent of a sin before the Lord? Doesn’t he give us a sense of relief from the guilt we have been feeling, and doesn’t he fill our souls with a greater sense of his love for us?

Let’s bring this into modern times. This is the sentence the Lord gave to Joseph Smith in Doctrine and Covenants 121:41–44.

41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile

43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;

44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.

My interpretation of these verses is that the power of the priesthood comes from the exercise of charity, the pure love of God. There are times when we must be reproved, corrected, or reprimanded, but it is the love that is shown to us afterwards that tells us that the correction was done with love or at least that the person who did the correcting still loves us, even if it wasn’t done in the most charitable way. The person who was corrected still needs to understand that our love for them is “stronger than the cords of death.”

Forgiveness then is not only obligatory, but mandatory. We have been commanded to forgive. If we harbor resentments and animosity or distrust then we are the one who needs to go and seek forgiveness, for we are the ones who have let Satan into our hearts to canker our soul. It is only when we learn to leave all judgment to the Lord, and to seek to love as purely and as freely as he loves us that we will learn to forgive freely and ourselves be free of judgment from God.

Day 4

2 Corinthians 5:14–21 – Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I can be reconciled to God.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you study Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, write down some of the gospel principles you discover and ponder how you can apply them in your life.

To be reconciled with someone is to repair differences, to make whole that which is damaged, to bring about harmony or unity where there was once discord and differences. The purpose of Christ’s atonement was make possible a reconciliation with our Father that is not otherwise possible.  As the great law giver God cannot forgive our violations of His eternal laws. It is only through the mercy of Christ, because of his atoning sacrifice, that we are able to be forgiven of our sins.

What is the gospel or good news of Christ if not the news that we now have a way to reconcile ourselves with God? That reconciliation comes through our acceptance of the sacrifice and atonement made by His Son, Jesus Christ. Christ’s atonement makes it possible for us to change and become new creatures, people who no longer live by the lusts of the flesh, but by the dictates and teachings of the Spirit. It is accepting Christ’s atonement for us that allows us to have the Spirit to come in and change our hearts from hardened and more unbelieving to softened and more believing.

Day 5

2 Corinthians 7:8–11 – Godly sorrow leads to repentance.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. As you study Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, write down some of the gospel principles you discover and ponder how you can apply them in your life.

It is a sad day when you realize that someone you love has been caught doing something awful, but the only sorrow they can muster for their offense comes from the fact they were caught at all. If they had not been caught they would have continued to do what they were doing. In fact, even now they will continue to do it if you would just turn your gaze somewhere else so they can do it without being observed. Doing their particular brand of evil is where the desires of their heart lie.

This is the kind of sorrow described in the Book of Mormon among the Nephites at the time of their destruction. I don’t know of a more heartbreaking description of the fall of a people than the one found in Mormon 2:10–14. They walked into their own destruction with their eyes wide open, knowing they would die because of the lives they chose to live.

10 And it came to pass that the Nephites began to repent of their iniquity, and began to cry even as had been prophesied by Samuel the prophet; for behold no man could keep that which was his own, for the thieves, and the robbers, and the murderers, and the magic art, and the witchcraft which was in the land.

11 Thus there began to be a mourning and a lamentation in all the land because of these things, and more especially among the people of Nephi.

12 And it came to pass that when I, Mormon, saw their lamentation and their mourning and their sorrow before the Lord, my heart did begin to rejoice within me, knowing the mercies and the long-suffering of the Lord, therefore supposing that he would be merciful unto them that they would again become a righteous people.

13 But behold this my joy was vain, for their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin.

14 And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die. Nevertheless they would struggle with the sword for their lives.

Mormon and Paul share the exact same sentiment. When our sorrow for sins prevents us from repenting our actions lead to death, always spiritual death, and sometimes even physical death. But when our sorrow is rooted in the knowledge that we have offended our Father, who is in heaven, and we want more than anything to repair the damage we have done to that special relationship then our sorrow leads to repentance and eternal life.

So godly sorrow is well named, for it refers to sorrowing over an offense to God. It is this sorrow that leads us to want to reconcile ourselves with God, and that can only be done through Christ’s atonement for our sins. Worldly sorrow serves no lasting eternal purpose, for it does not lead to repentance, and hence serves no lasting good in our lives.

Scripture Study and Home Evening

2 Corinthians 3:1–3 – Our lives are living recommendations for Christ and his gospel.

When was the last time you approached someone to write you are letter of recommendation? Was your mind filled with hopes that lots of good things would be said about you? Did you have any questions or worries that they might be a little too truthful and not paint you in a glowing light? Or did you approach the person, asking with the knowledge that you had little to recommend yourself, and were hoping they would make things up to be kind to you?

I love Paul’s description of each member of the Church. We are all living letters of recommendation of Christ and his gospel. These letters are not written on paper, but on our hearts. How we live our lives is the evidence of the effectiveness of Christ’s teachings. The apparent flaws in our lives tell everyone whether we are living up to what we profess. This is not the kind of letter of recommendation anyone else can “doctor” to make us look better than we are. Our very lives, our habits, out attitudes, and our personal accomplishments testify of our devotion to the Lord. If we have treated our discipleship lightly, it will show. If we have taken our discipleship seriously, it shows.

This kind of letter of recommendation is a display of our character. Paul is telling the Saints in Corinth that their lives are the proof of their teachings and ministering to them. Jobs are outward demonstrations of skills and competencies. The gospel changes us from the inside out. How we live our life is the demonstration of the changes repentance and devotion to all things holy have made in our life. We are our own living letter of recommendation. The question is, what is your life saying to others about your commitment to God and His work?

Here is a PDF of this week’s study material.
Print it out for greater convenience in your studies.

New Testament 37