Read 2 Corinthians 4
Focus on verse 4
Exhortation is rarely easy. It is not easy to accept, and it is no easier to deliver. If one finds it easy to deliver – it is highly likely that one is not doing it right.
The purpose of exhortation is to build a person up. It is one of many ways to add value to a person. If exhortation is improperly delivered it has a destructive effect.
In today’s reading Paul describes how painful it was to him to have to exhort and admonish the Corinthian believers in his letter.
For 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. (v. 4)
The old adage “this is going to hurt me more than its going to hurt you” when a parent was administering corporal correction to a child was often joked about back in the days when corporal punishment was a little more popular, but it ultimately should be true. If we do not to some extent feel some of the pain of the correction we are delivering, it is quite possible that the recipient is not going to feel the love that is supposedly motivating the exhortation. Exhortation that is not motivated by love is going to feel more like retaliation. Retaliation does not build up the other person, it is an attempt to build ourselves up at the expense of the other person, and typically does nothing to restore the relationship.