Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Hard Choice

Gotta love the First Church of Corinth! They are excessively inactive in addressing the sin of a believer, then they swing hard in the other direction. They are the church of extremes. No middle ground for them.
Now, regarding the one who started all this—the person in question who caused all this pain—I want you to know that I am not the one injured in this as much as, with a few exceptions, all of you. So I don’t want to come down too hard. What the majority of you agreed to as punishment is punishment enough. Now is the time to forgive this man and help him back on his feet. If all you do is pour on the guilt, you could very well drown him in it. My counsel now is to pour on the love. The focus of my letter was not on punishing the offender but on getting you to take responsibility for the health of the church. So if you forgive him, I forgive him. Don’t think I’m carrying around a list of personal grudges. The fact is that I’m joining in with your forgiveness, as Christ is with us, guiding us. After all, we don’t want to unwittingly give Satan an opening for yet more mischief—we’re not oblivious to his sly ways!   2 Corinthians 2:5-11(Message)

There is some important stuff I don't want to rush past. First, a brother, a believer was sinning and he was just fine with it. All the while the Church looked the other way. After some prompting from our good friend "oh so subtle Paul", the body of believers called the man out regarding his sin. Next Paul recognizes that beyond feeling guilty, the man has sorrow (an indicator or remorse and repentance). The offender has stopped sinning. Now it is time for the church to forgive, build a bridge and get over it. God has forgiven. To continue to "punish" the offender will not help him and it could in fact harm him. Now here is the wrap up wammy - Paul says his point in addressing the issue in the first place was to get the church to take a hard look at their spiritual health as a body of believers. When the church is sick, the church needs to address it. Satan is hoping for unforgiveness, so don't take the bait.

Unforgiveness is a Scheme of Satan.
It can strangle a marriage.
It can stagnate a friendship.
It can stifle a church.
It can shackle me and silence God.

Do actions have consequences? Yes. Does it take time for restoration and healing to occur? Yes. Is love part of the healing process? Always. If I choose to hold on to unforgiveness, can I pour on love as Paul directs? I don't think I can. A spirit of unforgiveness will block my ability to love. 

Some things may seem unforgivable, at least by human standards. 
Some things can only be forgiven with the power provided by God.
Some things I could never forgive on my own - but God has set me free.
Unforgiveness might hurt the other guy, but it always hurts me more. To forgive is the hard choice. It's obedience. It is an exercise of my will. Feelings don't always accompany the action. At least not at first. But God doesn't call me to a life of feeling, He calls me to a life of faith.

Today God, if my heart clings to hurts that are coming between You and Me, please bring them to my mind. Hold my hand, hold me close and then let me have Your strength to let them go.  AMEN

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