As we begin the 2nd letter to the church in Corinth, we need to take a brief look back at one of the issues Paul dealt with in his first letter. Apparently there was a man in the church who was having a gross and open immoral relationship; however, the church was negligent in dealing with this man and his sin. In turn we read in 5:13 of 1 Corinthians, “But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” The putting away phrase clearly was a reference to church discipline so as to protect the testimony and purity of the Corinthian church.
Now as we being 2 Corinthians we read that apparently this man had sincerely repented of his sin and wanted to make things right. In verses 6-8 we read of what the church’s response to him should be. “Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.” Paul was encouraging the church to forgive this repentant man, extend love to him and welcome him back into the fellowship of the church. This isn’t to say there wouldn’t be some boundaries or accountability going further but still, now was the time for the church to show forgiveness and love.
I’m reminded of the story I heard an evangelist share during revival meetings years ago. A well-known pastor had been caught up in some illegal financial activities and found himself serving time in jail. This evangelist was in the area and decided to go visit with this fallen preacher. While visiting with him, the pastor shared with the evangelist that he was the first person to actually come visit him and that most if not all of his previous friends and acquaintances had cut off all communication with him even though he had apparently repented and was trying to make things right with those he had wronged. I’m not advocating that sin doesn’t have consequences and that we should welcome fallen brothers in Christ as if no sin had ever been committed, but I am saying that we need to be reminded of the fact that we should treat others as God has treated us. Yes we’ve sinned, and sinned horribly, yet the offer of forgiveness and love has been extended to us. Shouldn’t we in turn offer that same forgiveness and love to others who have sinned?