2 Corinthians 2
7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.
2 Corinthians 2:7
In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul encouraged the believers in Corinth to not only share in each other’s sufferings, but to also share comfort as we’ve been comforted by God. In chapter 2, Paul continues to urge the believers in Corinth, and even us, to unite as a community that disciplines in love, and then forgives those in our family who have sinned.
Paul had obviously encouraged the church in Corinth to discipline someone in their community who was sinning. Perhaps he is referring to the brother in 1 Corinthians 5 who was sinning with his mother-in-law. Now it seems that Paul fears the discipline has gone too far. He urges them to forgive their brother and to reaffirm their love for him, so he would not be ‘overwhelmed by excessive sorrow’ (verse 7). Whether the church was excessively harsh in their treatment of him or if believers in the body had cut him off from fellowship, Paul now tells them to welcome him back.
When someone in our church family commits a sin that is obvious to the body, and they are brought under discipline, it is easy for us to think we too have the right to bring judgement and to continue to hold their sin against them. But Paul here reminds us that just as we are called to suffer together, we are also called to comfort each other (2 Corinthians 1:7). The church in Corinth had suffered due to this sinner’s actions, but now its members are called to forgive the brother and welcome him back into community. Paul includes this in his letter to the church as a model of how they, and indeed all believers, are to live in community. Paul explains that he wanted to see the church ‘stand the test’ and ‘be obedient in everything’, thus urged them to discipline this man. But now he tells them to receive their brother back into fellowship, both for that man’s good, and to avoid Satan getting a foothold in the church by using this situation for his own ends (verse 11).
Is there someone in our church body that you struggle to forgive? Are you still holding someone’s sins against them? The Lord calls us to ‘forgive and comfort’ them, that Satan may not outwit you.
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Amen.