Good Life Journal - 2 Corinthians 2
2 Cor 2:7-10 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.
Paul continues his letter with a chapter on discipline and forgiveness. Paul had been deeply hurt by someone. He used his experience as an example to the church at Corinth. The purpose of this letter was to test the church and to make sure they were being obedient in all things. He had forgiven this individual and now he wanted the church to also forgive this person as well. Christian disciple is supposed to be for the purpose of correcting not for punishing. But, as Paul points out, Christian discipline is active and not passive. We are to forgive and comfort if the person repents.
There are consequences to being too lenient and too harsh with our discipline and with our inability to forgive. Satan will try to use discipline to his advantage. He is watching individuals and churches to watch for a way to disrupt a church and/ or individuals.
I will usually forgive someone, eventually. But after reading this chapter I realize that I don't go far enough. Forgiveness is not enough. Paul states that I am to forgive and comfort. I usually forgive and move on. I forget the comfort part. Actually, it rarely enters my mind. I am not always as sensitive to the needs of others. Comfort and love in situations that I may have been hurt are not easy and not natural to me.
If the goal of church discipline is restoration, the goal of forgiveness is restoration as well. Forgiveness is an act of love. I cannot expect God to forgive me if I am not willing to forgive others. But, as Paul points out, forgiveness is not just saying “I forgive you”. It is also about showing love and compassion. It is about having an understanding that Jesus gave us an example of the love we are to show. Forgiveness and love benefit the church.
Churches and individuals should be ready to discipline but the discipline must be appropriate to the severity of the act. Too little and it is not effective. Too harsh and it could allow Satan a window of opportunity to exploit. Satan is always looking for ways to disrupt, undue and destroy the church. I must be aware of how my actions (or inactions) toward other believers can allow Satan to grab a foothold and drive a wedge in our local church.
Father, Help me to understand the situations that I need to show more love, more comfort and more understanding. You have given us the example. Let me follow your example. Help me realize the areas of my life and in our church that could allow Satan an opportunity to enter to try to disrupt and destroy.