03 July 2015
Reading: 2 Corinthians 2; Psalm 3
7 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. 8 My counsel now is to pour on the love. 9 The focus of my letter wasn’t on punishing the offender but on getting you to take responsibility for the health of the church. (2 Corinthians 2:7-9 MSG)
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he addressed an issue of serious sexual sin in the church. The church leaders had been “looking the other way” and not dealing with the person involved and so Paul’s letter (1 Corinthians) teaches not only them, but us, how to deal firmly but redemptively with serious sin in the church.
Now after some months, Paul writes that they should forgive the man and receive him back into full fellowship in the church. Paul makes it clear that the purpose in church discipline, even the most severe form of discipline, excluding a person from fellowship, is not for punishment but for repentance and forgiveness and restoration.
Paul challenged the leaders and members of the church to accept personal responsibility for themselves, for each other, and for the health of the church. We must lovingly speak truth to sinning believers and we must lovingly forgive as Christ forgives.
The more we take responsibility for our own spiritual health, the less discipline we need from God and others. The more we take responsibility for the health of the church, the fewer relationships will be damaged or destroyed, and the fewer people will be lost from fellowship with God and with the church.
I must take personal responsibility for the health of the church. I must keep my relationship with Jesus fresh and alive, I must keep my relationship with other Christ-followers healthy, and I must pray, speak, and act as a responsible member of the fellowship of believers.
It’s not “them,” it’s “us!”
Father, Please help me not to think that it’s someone else’s responsibility. I am a part of the Body of Christ. I am responsible for the health of the church. May I be part of the truth-speaking and also part of the loving forgiveness. Amen.