2 Corinthians 2:3, 4
And I wrote this same to you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice…
How far from a formal or mechanical ministry was that of the apostle! He entered into the circumstances and the feelings of those for whom he had laboured. Nothing which affected their interests was indifferent to him. Some in his position would have said, "We have done our duty; it is no affair of ours how they act; why should we trouble ourselves regarding them?" Not so St. Paul. When the Corinthians acted unworthily, his sensitive heart was distressed; when they repented, that heart bounded with joy. This was not altogether the effect of natural temperament; it was the fruit of true fellowship of spirit with his Lord.
I. THE SPIRIT OF SYMPATHY IS THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST AND OF CHRISTIANITY. In the earthly life of our Saviour we behold evidences of this spirit. He rejoiced in men's joys; he wept by the grave of his friend; he sighed and groaned when he met with instances of unspirituality and unbelief. It was pity which brought him first to earth and then to the cross of Calvary. Similarly with the precepts of the New Testament. The lesson is often virtually repeated, "Rejoice with those who do rejoice, and weep with those who weep."
II. THE SPIRIT OF SYMPATHY IS SOMETIMES THE OCCASION OF SORROW.
1. The spectacle of a professing Christian falling into sin awakens commiseration and distress in the mind of every true follower of Christ.
2. The spectacle of a Christian conniving at sin, or regarding it with comparative unconcern, is painful in the extreme to one solicitous for Christian purity.
3. Sorrow, from whatever cause, awakens sorrow in a mind sensitive as was that of Paul.
III. THE SPIRIT OF SYMPATHY IS SOMETIMES THE OCCASION OF JOY. Even amidst personal difficulties and opposition encountered in his ministry Paul was not indifferent to the joys of his converts. And when those whose conduct had pained him came to a better mind and afforded him satisfaction, he rejoiced with them in their happiness. If there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth, surely he most resembles the Father of spirits and his immediate attendants whose heart is lifted up with exhilaration and delight by anything that manifests the growth and victory of the Divine kingdom upon earth. - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all.