You’ve been grieved by another human being sometime in your life, right? We all have been. How have you handled those situations? What have you done in response to the hurt?
Paul, in this second letter to the church in Corinth, gives some guidance in this area to those who are believers. Take a look.
“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. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven – if there was anything to forgive – I have forgiven I the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” (2 Corinthians 2:5-11)
The first thing Paul says we need to do when someone has grieved us and they’ve repented…forgive! Forgiveness is an act of the will. It is not a feeling. It is a choice.
“I will no longer hold this person liable for what they did.”
“I will cease to hold them guilty in the court of my heart.”
People tell me, “I can’t forgive.” Not true! You can, but you won’t.
After you’ve chosen to forgive the person who grieved you, what do you do? Paul says to comfort him so he won’t be overwhelmed with excessive sorrow. Show concern for the person who grieved you. Tell him you forgive him. Make sure he knows you’ve chosen to let the past stay in the past. You do this for his good. He is your friend, your brother, remember? You don’t want him to continue to beat himself up over what he did. He’s sorry for it. He’s repented. Let him be done with it in his own heart just as you are in yours.
Paul then tells you and me that we need to reaffirm our love for the person who’s caused us grief, welcome them back into your circle of relationships. Remember this is a repentant person! This is someone whose godly sorrow has led them to turn away from sin. This is NOT someone who continues to threaten harm. What exactly reaffirming love looks like, I’ll leave up to you and God. A card. A prayer. A visit. A phone call. Whatever God leads you to do, do it.
Why do we do all this stuff? Why do we forgive? Why do we comfort? Why do we reaffirm our love for the person who’s done us wrong? We do it so that Satan doesn’t outwit the church.
Tell me, what will the world think of the church if the people in it can’t get along? “That’s how Jesus’ followers act? He loved and forgave. All these guys do is bicker and fight. I can get bitterness and invective elsewhere.”
When the “pagans” see that, the church becomes ineffective in its witness. No one wants what we have to offer. No one believes that Jesus can change their life. That’s a logical conclusion based on observation. Isn’t that what you would think of those who will not forgive or comfort or reaffirm love for a friend?
How do you need to apply what you’ve heard to your life? Is there someone who has repented of their sin against you? Do you need to choose forgiveness? Is there someone who has expressed sorrow over the hurt they caused you? Comfort them. Is there someone who has, in love, confessed their sin against you? Have you returned that confession of brotherly affection?
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