OMETIMES the only thing that matters is that people know how much we care. I'm not discounting principles and power. Certainly, it is not my desire to marginalize diligence or substance, or to just be emotional. But it is unmistakable that Paul expressed this exact sentiment here in this chapter (vs. 12). In this case, the thing that mattered most to him was that the Corinthians knew that he cared. The context of this letter was Paul’s desire to comfort the believers in Corinth with love.
In vs. 1 Paul calls the Corinthians his "dearly beloved" ones. He was promoting holiness and faith among them, but it was his love for them that he used as leverage to move them in that direction. In vs. 3-4 Paul basically gushed about his intense concern for their spiritual wellbeing. With open fondness, Paul rehearsed Titus' testimony concerning the interest that the Corinthians had showed concerning his (Paul's) wellbeing (vs. 6-7). And, concerning the sorrow that had been produced in the Corinthians by Paul's first letter, here he assured them that it was not their sorrow that he sought; it was their holiness. He only rejoiced in their sorrow because of the repentance which it had produced in them. His desire had not been to break their heart. He had only been willing to break their heart in order to bring them into full fellowship with the Father and with all other saints. If they walked in errors, there would have been a gap in their spiritual relationships. Paul was practicing tough love – not because he enjoyed being tough, but because he realized that tough love was what his friends in Corinth needed. Although his pen was sharp, Paul's heart overflowed with gentleness and kindness.