“…one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”
~2 Corinthians 2:10-11
The Apostle Paul writes to the church in Corinth in regards to forgiving one who has brought him personal trouble within their fellowship and so causing them all a measure of grief. The individual evidently repented and was sorrowful for the pain he brought to the apostle and the body of Christ. Therefore, Paul identifies, forgives, and identifies with the forgiving hearts of those involved. How many marriages, friendships, and church families could be saved if we would take to heart the truths put before us?
In this instance, an individual sinned against Paul; and it included others. The offense had to be addressed. Christian forgiveness does not mean we do not confront the sin or the one causing pain. This matter was confronted and dealt with. However, church discipline, as would all discipline and correction be, is also redemptive. In other words, the end goal is restoration. Issues were not swept under the rug, but they were dealt with in order that wrongs could be made right.
This we do in light of how the Lord has forgiven us. So in the presence of Christ, Paul forgives, as we all should; for the Lord has forgiven much concerning ourselves. There is also the penitent heart in this, though, that becomes the recipient of God’s mercy. Forgiveness and godly sorrow go hand in hand.
We must have a forgiving heart, but restoration cannot be realized until there is repentance. This individual did not justify himself or make excuses. How many attempt to apologize, yet it always includes “but” or “because” or “I was feeling this way or that” or “what I meant to say” to explain their words or actions? Excuses and self-righteousness justifying sinful and hurtful words and actions instead of a simple humble and contrite “I’m sorry.”
Because this individual showed godly sorrow, the apostle calls for the restorative application of forgiveness so that the enemy would not now succeed in another form of his tactics. The apostle was wise to the enemy’s schemes in bringing division through this individual; but once all was repented for and forgiven, the apostle did not want the enemy to succeed now through despair and discouragement.
Sin would not be permitted, nor would any other schemes of the enemy. Each device of the enemy would be dealt with in the wisdom and authority of God. Beloved, may we learn to address sin and those who cause pain towards others but with an aim towards redemption, keeping in mind the mercy of the Lord towards us but also the need of godly sorrow in humility. Hoping, praying, and working towards restoration lest we give the enemy another opportunity to have a foot hold. God grant us such wisdom and love through our Lord Jesus Christ.
In Christ alone.
Scripture quotation taken from the NASB. www.lockman.org