December 10, 2021
Scripture: Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. 2 Corinthians 2:5-8 ESV
Observation: Having explained to the Corinthian church that he had sent his initial letter confronting their sinful behaviors (adultery, gluttony, and neglect of the poor) with much anguish of heart (verse 4), Paul now urges the church to forgive and comfort those who have repented. In particular, Paul notes that the sins of individuals within the body of Christ impact all its members (verse 5 above). So Paul encourages the church to extend forgiveness and comfort and reaffirm their love for the contrite in heart.
Takeaway: In the same manner that unrepentant sin ills the church, withholding forgiveness and comfort will injure the entire fellowship. Why? Because such vengeful behavior denies the grace of Christ that restores all of us to wholeness when we genuinely seek forgiveness. Moreover, the “God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction,” commands us to do likewise for others (1:4). And his Son commands us to love one another as he has loved us. In doing so, the world will know that we are his disciples (John 13:34-35).
Indeed, it is a boomerang effect: we stand condemned before God when we withhold forgiveness and comfort. But when we restore others by reaffirming our love for them, we receive grace upon grace—comforting ourselves in the love of God.
Prayer: Father God, would you provoke us to extend your hand of forgiveness and comfort to those who are truly repentant, that the body of Christ would attest to the world you and your Son’s love for the least, the last, and the lost. Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling