Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Forgiven and Forgiving

When Paul the apostle wrote his second letter to the Christians in Corinth, it was as like God himself had ordained the circumstances and events leading to the letter.  He really had, and Paul was quick to tell the Corinthians about it. As his first letter had indicated, there were serious problems going on in Corinth and even in the church there. Paul's first letter addressed sensitive subjects ranging from sexual conduct to the use of spiritual gifts. His often read description of love in 1 Corinthians 13, was given to help us understand that even in diversity and troubling situations in the church, the real answer is love, and that includes all its behavioral characteristics. 

Paul's second letter takes on the form of encouraging words and reminding the Christians of their responsibilities since they now belong to Christ. No doubt the sticky problems handled in the first letter were still on their minds, possibly even to the point some of them were still hurting. So Paul immediately addresses the need of forgiveness. He isn't talking here about God's forgiveness, he is talking about Christians forgiving Christians. 

In the fellowship of the Lord's church, the greatest thing we can bring to the body of believers is a spirit of forgiveness. We become offended and it hurts. We build walls that actually separate us from each other. We fail to see that God has accepted us just the way we are, and that he changes and matures us in the growing process. Numerous people going through that change and growth will no doubt be affected with disagreement on some issues. Resolution of disagreements can only come when we meet head to head, face to face, and practice the love that Jesus taught and which Paul is now teaching.  2 Corinthians 2:8 actually tells us we need to go through the process of "reaffirming our love" toward an offending brother. 

Paul even went so far as to say he was personally putting these Christians to the test to see if they were being obedient to God's way of loving and forgiving each other.  Do we go through such testing?  Yes, we do. And so often our human nature leads us to continue to harbor grudges and maintain an unforgiving spirit, and that interferes with the ministry of the church and the individual growth of the Christian. 

A little later in verse 11 Paul gives the reason for us to be so involved in loving and forgiving others when he writes, "in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes."  The apostle is warning us here, and we need to get this......Failure to love and forgive others who have offended or wronged us, makes us an instrument of Satan's workings. 

We have better things to keep in our hearts and minds than the bitterness which divides us. Let us spend our time and energy and efforts in showing the world we are the children of God, through our love for one another. 


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