WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER
Dear Father, help me to know and worship you with an undivided heart. Help me as I seek to lead others to worship you in spirit and in truth.
Read 2 CORINTHIANS 2:5-11
Forgiveness for the Offender
5 If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. 6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. 9 Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectThink back to a time when someone forgave you for a hurt you had caused. How did it feel?
Paul still has the severe letter on his mind. It had worked – but not quite in the way he had intended! One purpose of the letter had been to urge the church to address an incident of serious misconduct. The person involved needed to be punished. In Paul’s mind the sequence would be punishment, forgiveness, restoration. The church hadn’t gotten beyond punishment! They had carried out his instruction but misunderstood (or ignored?) the deeper purpose. The result was that the offender was demoralized and Satan was having a field day (v 11).
Paul says, in effect, ‘Tell him that you love him, forgive him and welcome him back’ (vs 7,8). And is there a hint in verse 10 that beyond forgiveness there is forgetfulness (see Psalm 103:12)? Punishment delivered without love – then and now – will only result in despair. It’s a delicate balance, but if the intention shifts from restoration to revenge, all will be lost. The people involved will suffer, but so will the whole church (v 5) because we belong together. Paul had taught them that earlier (1 Corinthians 12). We really are all in this together (Romans 12:15).
We may think, ‘What a terrible bunch they were in Corinth.’ We mustn’t! Instead let’s have a clear-eyed view of our own fellowship and pray that God will fill us with love and the power to forgive.
Lord, I pray for the leaders of my church. Give them wisdom and guidance as they deal with difficult personal issues in the life of the church.
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