(2 Corinthians 2:1-11)
In the first letter Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, he was quite scathing about some of the practices they were accepting and allowing to occur. Those practices included many forms of adultery and immorality and had to be addressed in a direct and emphatic way.
Judgement was made and those who were carrying out these immoral practices were brought to account. Their practices were shown up to the light of the truth and shown to be wrong and those who were doing such things were warned to change their ways or leave the church.
But in this letter we see a call for reconciliation, where the people who had wronged the church and repented, changed their ways and were seeking God’s forgiveness. And where this happens, Paul now instructs the church to also forgive and welcome back those who have repented.
In God’s Image
The walk we are on with Christ is to be transformed into the image of God, who is the epitome of love.
Part of the love of God is forgiveness for those who seek Him and repent of their sins. As we are to be in the image of God, it is necessary that as God forgives, we too must forgive. In fact the scripture tells us that our forgiveness is dependent on our forgiving those who sin against us.
bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. – (Colossians 3:13)
And this is what Paul was teaching the church in Corinth.
First, Paul told the people in the church to forgive those who had been turned out of the church. Note, this is dependent on their repentance.
Generally speaking, where there is no repentance, their is no forgiveness. However there are exceptions to this rule too.
If a person has wronged you and you are hurt emotionally or spiritually in some way, then you need to forgive the other person so that you do not grow bitter. As the scripture says,
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; – (Hebrews 12:15)
It is not good for you to live with a hard core of bitterness in your heart against another person, and it is definitely not the way of the Lord.
In this case it is essential that you forgive the person who wronged you, not for their sake, but for your own sake. Even if you don’t or can’t speak to the other person, or if you do, even if they reject your forgiveness, it doesn’t matter. The purpose of forgiveness in this case is to lift the burden from you. You cannot walk in the ways of the Lord when you have unresolved bitterness in your heart towards another person.
Also when you retain your anger or harbour grudges against another person, you are not in control of yourself. The other person has you in their control and the grip they have on you is not released until you forgive them and move on.
But in the case of the church at Corinth, it was not personal against individuals, but a wrong against the church and God.
So if the person repents and seeks forgiveness from the church, it must be given. And not grudgingly given but given from the heart.
Finally we see that it is not just forgiveness that is needed, but comfort. Comfort is an extension of the process of forgiveness and those who have wronged the church and repented will be grieving. Thus the need for comfort.
The bible tells us that God is a God of comfort and we can seek comfort from Him and also give comfort to those who need it.
This comfort is part of the settling down process that the church would need to re-establish and settle down. There were some difficult lessons that needed to be learned and they were learned. But after the harsh lessons, comfort is required to settle the church down so that they can overcome the issues and move on.
And that is the point of this whole exercise. To work through the issues and move on with the walk in Jesus. The aim is love and perfection in Jesus Christ and these lessons would lead to a new level of maturity for the church.
No doubt it was a difficult lesson for the church to learn. It was written down not just for them but for our instruction too. Let us then learn the lessons of both forgiveness and comfort so when we find ourselves in situations where they are needed, we can apply these lessons.
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