2 Corinthians 2:5-3:18; 2 Kings 15-16; Micah 5:2-15
According to some, Christians are the only religious group to shoot their wounded. I don’t know if we are the only group to do so, but we do a pretty good job of it. We also have help from those outside the church who attack the person who has fallen and the Church in general for being hypocritical because of that one person. Perhaps we have forgotten that the church is more a hospital for sinners than it is a haven for saints. Paul, in an earlier letter to Corinth, had dealt with a severe sin issue. He told the Corinthians that they needed to deal with this situation. They shouldn’t use it as a point of pride for how tolerant they were and they shouldn’t accept unrepentant sin in the church. It had an effect. Not only did the church change, the one committing the sin changed as well. As a result, a brother who had sinned and then sought forgiveness was still being ostracized by the church. Paul taught the church phase two of the process of restoration: “This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-7) There is a fine line for Christians, especially in a society that openly glorifies sinful behavior. On the one hand, we need to show the love of Christ to all people. On the other hand, we can’t accept or glorify sinful behavior. When someone has engaged in sinful behavior, though, and repents and seeks forgiveness, we in the Church need to be the first to extend it. If it is someone who received that forgiveness before and then turned around and betrayed us, we need to show God’s grace. Is there a limit on the number of times we need to extend forgiveness, not if you listen to Jesus! Of course, when we take sin lightly, as many would do, we don’t understand the depths of the forgiveness that God has for us. As you look to God, see the depths of your sin and the height of His forgiveness. If He restored you to a relationship with Him, He can restore other people too. Be an agent of restoration
Lord, it is so easy to look at the sins of others while ignoring my own. Remind me first that I am a sinful human being who needs forgiveness all the time. As you remind me of that, help me show Your forgiveness to others – forgiving them just as You forgave me.