At the very end of 2 Corinthians 8, the fourth thing I notice is that Paul tells the Corinthians how in spite of their sin he boasted about them to Titus and to other people. He must have said to Titus, "These Corinthians are Christians. When they get this letter, the Holy Spirit will work in them. They are far more mature than their behavior is indicating. They are going to repent of their sin and they are going to get back on the right course." At the same time he must have also said, "I sure hope that is an accurate analysis." When Titus returned and the report was good, Paul could say, "See, I was right. God is working in those men and women in Corinth. They are God’s people and they are going to make it. They are going to grow and mature in the Christian life." And Paul, as he tells about that, is not afraid to be vulnerable.

Another time Paul is most open and vulnerable is when he begins to talk about his comfort at the coming of Titus. We know from the earlier chapters that he was troubled on behalf of the Corinthians. He had sent them the first letter, but he did not know how it would be received. He had gone to Macedonia when, at first, Titus was not there. But finally, Titus came to see him. He says that he was comforted in that great period of trouble to have this fellow soldier of Jesus Christ, this companion in his labor, come and bear good tidings.

When Paul writes this letter, he is particularly vulnerable. He is very frank and open as he shares his experiences and feelings with the Corinthians. The keynote of this section is his reference to the word "hearts." In verse 2 he uses "your hearts," and in verse 3 he uses "our hearts." This section is a repetition of what he wrote in the previous chapter, verse 11: "We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you"; then on that basis in verse 13 he says, "...open wide your hearts also." Here, in chapter 7, he says, "Make room for us in your hearts. ...I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you."

Another reason for a failure of intimacy is what is called "low self-esteem" or "low self-image." Now, if men have a problem particularly in the area of the fear of intimacy, I would venture to say that, while it is true of men also, many women in our day especially suffer with low self-image. Perhaps the culture is partially to blame. Today women are told that they can be everything. Now they probably can be, but they cannot be everything at once.

In this section Paul refers again to what he was discussing in chapters 2 and 6. What distinguishes this section of the book, however, is the exceedingly intimate way he bares his heart to these Christians in the city of Corinth. Intimacy is a very important thing because it is something we all hunger for and yet it is something, unfortunately, we very seldom find.