The Joys of Love

I beg of you that when I am present I may not have to show boldness with such confidence as I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. (2 Corinthians 10:2–3)

Consider the relationship between the images of love in 2 Corinthians 8 and 2.

In chapter 8, love is the overflow of joy in God that gladly meets the needs of others. It is the impulse of a fountain to overflow. It originates in the grace of God, which overflows freely because it delights to fill the empty. Love shares the nature of that grace because it too delights to overflow freely to meet the needs of others.

In chapter 2, love is what exists between people when they find their joy in each other’s joy. Is this in contradiction to the love of chapter 8, where joy comes from God and overflows to others? It sounds in chapter 2 like joy is coming from the joy of other people, not from God. How do these two ways of talking about love relate to each other?

I think the answer is that love not only delights to cause joy in those who are empty (2 Corinthians 8), but also delights to contemplate joy in those who are full (2 Corinthians 2). And these two delights are not at all in contradiction.

The grace of God delights to grant repentance (2 Timothy 2:25), and it rejoices over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7). Therefore, when our hearts are filled with joy in the grace of God, we want not only to cause the joy of others, but also to contemplate it when it exists in others.