Monday, 15 June 2015
…so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. 2 Corinthians 2:7
Paul has been exceedingly comforting and delicate in his words towards the offender. He has not called him by his name and he has referred to him in a roundabout manner. For example, the word “him” in this verse isn’t in the original, but is inserted by the translators for clarity. In the previous verse, he noted that the punishment which had been meted out by the majority was sufficient. It served its purpose and the man was reformed. However, what can be inferred is that he is not only reformed, but immensely sorrowful for having brought disgrace upon Christ, the fellowship, and himself.
Because of this, Paul says “on the contrary…” This is something like “on the other hand.” In essence, “Instead of continuing his discipline, you should on the other hand now take a new direction.” And this new direction is “rather to forgive and comfort him.” Where there was discipline (possibly excommunication which was recommended by Paul) there should now be reconciliation. Where there was judgment, there should be forgiveness. And where there was upsetting the brother and the fellowship, there should now be comfort.
His reason for this action is clearly stated, “…lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow.” The word translated as “swallowed” is used to indicate being totally consumed, as if gulping something down. It is used in Hebrews 11 to indicate the death of the Egyptians who pursued Israel –
“By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.” Hebrews 11:29
Therefore, it is unclear if Paul was worried about him being so consumed with grief that he may simply walk away from the faith or even commit suicide. Whatever word had come to him concerning this man, he wanted it known that he held him in great concern and in great love.
Life application: It is apparent from this passage that church discipline is to be used in order to bring a person to a point of sorrow and repentance and then it is to be ended. To continue to discipline someone who has amended their ways can only end in harm towards that person.
Lord God, help me to be a forgiving person when restoration is sought. Help me to not carry grudges against those who have come and asked for making amends. It is so easy to let past differences or offenses linger on, but I know that You would want them ended. We have all walked contrary to You and yet You sent Your Son to reconcile us. For those who have called out to Him, You have forgiven the past and established a new, harmonious walk between the two. Help me to act in a like manner, especially considering that the offense of others against me is miniscule in comparison to my offenses against You. Help me in this. Amen.