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The word "downcast" is the same as the one translated "humility" in other contexts. Perhaps we can compare it to the expression, "feeling low." What are some of the ways God can comfort / encourage us when we have this type of "humility"?
In other sections of 2 Corinthians, Paul also makes reference to encouragement and comfort. In ch. 1, he begins by talking about "the God of all comfort," who encourages us in our troubles, and in doing so, enables us to encourage others. In ch. 2, he asks the people to forgive the repentant sinner. In other chapters, he describes some of his circumstances (which could be easily described as "discouraging") as well as his attitude toward them (which is influenced by God's encouragement). Read 2 Corinthians (or at least part of it). Look for: 1) Some of the circumstances which could be considered "discouraging," and 2) some of the reasons for being encouraged when we are in such circumstances.
Though not the focus of 2 Corinthians 7:6, this type of "humility" (being downcast or discouraged) can also be related to our awareness of our own sins. How can God encourage us when an awareness of our own sinfulness leaves us feeling downcast?
1) ENCOURAGEMENT MIGHT NOT COME AT THE TIME WE WANT IT TO.
We tend to focus on our immediate circumstances, but God sees the whole picture. If encouragement does not come when we want it to, how should that influence our attitude toward (and our trust in) God? On the other hand, are there times that he does send encouragement, but we do not accept it because it's not the type we want? (If this is the case, there might be some deeper issues we need to deal with, that are more important for us than escaping our present circumstances.)
2) THIS PASSAGE SHOWS THAT GOD OFTEN USES PEOPLE TO BRING ENCOURAGEMENT TO OTHERS.
Since this is the case, are there some ways you should be letting God use you to encourage others?
Perhaps includes the idea of having a "low" level of courage (or none at all)
In Paul's case, this was a false accusation. But how about you? Do you ever make bold, empty threats (or claims) that prove to be meaningless and hollow, when they are more closely examined? Do you ever say that you will do something, and then fail to carry through with your promise? If so, in what ways can you follow Paul's example by NOT having this type of "humility"?
Some other passages you may want to think about include: Ephesians 4:15, 25 (speaking truthfully); Ephesians 6:19-20 (speaking fearlessly, or with boldness); 2 Timothy 1:7 (not having a spirit of fear or timidity); Matthew 8:26; Mark 4:40; Revelation 21:8 (the incompatibility of fear / cowardice with faith / trust in God).
Note Paul's response in v. 2-6. The word "bold" is the same as the word translated "confidence" or "courage" in 2 Corinthians 5:6, 8; 7:16. Paul would be "bold" in dealing with sin, if it was necessary (v. 6). But he would do things differently than they expected, for they were still thinking about boldness in the world's way! Godly boldness is NOT incompatible with godly humility! Compare the "boldness" they seemed to have toward Paul (expressed by their attitude toward him) to Paul's boldness toward them (expressed in his attitude toward them).
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Dennis Hinks © 1998