Friday, October 26, 2007

Willing to Forgive?

In our lives we face scandals, those times when we feel that others are out to get us. Like a trapped animal we lash out, there is no way that we are going to be captured without a fight. Facing the scandal only makes us sad and defensive.

Dealing with the scandal we discipline the sinner. Sometimes the punishment is banishment. Sometimes the punishment is being ostracized. The punishment can be severe and it can be less harsh. Each individual takes their punishment differently. A harsh punishment can be less severe to one and extremely painful for another.

But when the punishment is met forgiveness should be given. When repentance is demonstrated forgiveness should be given. But forgiveness is hard!

For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15

Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22

While I was reading 2 Corinthians I read about a situation that Paul was helping the church of Corinth through. He told them not just to forgive the unnamed sinner but to comfort and love him. To come alongside that man and support him.

Christ died on a cross paying the price for our sins. He did the time. Through this process our sins are forgiven. Denying someone forgiveness is denial of the cross. Is the scheme of Satan that Paul warns us of?

2 Corinthians 1:23-2:11 I call God as my witness that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm. So I made up my mind that I would not make another painful visit to you. For if I grieve you, who is left to make me glad but you whom I have grieved? I wrote as I did so that when I came I should not be distressed by those who ought to make me rejoice. I had confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy. For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.

If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent--not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven--if there was anything to forgive--I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

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