In this second letter to the Corinthians, Paul has made it clear that he will no longer visit them as he had earlier intended to. The reason was that he did not want to further cause a rift in the relationship he had with them by his rebuke in his first letter (2:1-4). However, he still had important pastoral issues to address with the church.
In 2 Corinthians 2:5-11, Paul urged the church leaders to extend grace and forgiveness to a fellow Christian brother. This brother was severely punished and perhaps excommunicated from his community for causing grieve to the church. We aren’t certain of the details but it must have been extremely bad for the church leadership to punish him this way. Now, Paul chose to be an advocate on the brother’s behalf and appealed to the leadership that they would seek reconciliation by forgiving the man. By doing so, they would have obeyed Jesus Christ and restored the man to Christ and the Church.
Forgiveness is an overarching theme that is found in the entire Biblical narrative. In the Gospel narratives, Jesus made it clear in the Sermon on the Mount that whenever we offend others or are offended by them, especially those in the family of the Lord, we must choose to forgive and seek forgiveness (Matthew 5:23-26). He made forgiving and seeking for reconciliation such a crucial part of our act of worship – forgiveness comes before worship.
Learning from the passage, we recognize that at time we can be quite insistent with our punishment of sins and wrongdoings among our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. In our own self-righteousness, we hold “holy grudges” (there is nothing holy about grudges) to punish them. We give them the cold shoulder and even prevent them from receiving fellowship with other believers. At times, we can prolong a discipline for too long in the “name of Christ”, but instead of reconciliation we cause division.
Friends, how long do you intend to keep that grudge? How long do you desire to withhold forgiveness and forfeit your own experience of God’s grace? I would like to implore you to forgive those who have harmed and hurt you. Forgive as you have been forgiven. And if possible, be reconciled to one another and to Jesus Christ. Let us not give Satan a foothold in our lives.
May the grace and peace of the Lord be with you always. Amen.