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Forgive and Comfort!
Christian Devotional by Pastor Cecil Thompson

Cecil Thompson

2 Corinthians 2:5-8

"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."

Are you ready for a little detective work? I hope we will not end up as "defective detectives." In Scripture we are told to study to show ourselves approved of God. Part of that study is to dig into the hidden truths of God's Word.

From the tone of the comments that Paul makes to the church at Corinth, a particular man had been the source of conflict in the body. It appears that it might have involved Paul, since in the first few verses of this chapter he refers to his first visit as being painful. It also appears that some type of discipline was administered by the church.

We can infer that the man has repented of his offense and has asked for forgiveness. It is thought that Paul wrote this letter from Ephesus which is across the Aegean Sea from Corinth. I don't think there were any telephones or computers back then, so word of the man's repentance must have been relayed by word of mouth by someone who had come from Corinth. How are we doing detectives? Stay close, we are about to dig deeper.

Paul indicates that the church in Corinth has exerted enough punishment and that the man was truly repentant. In effect he is saying to stop punishing and start restoring. Thinking like a detective brings us to conclude that the people in Corinth are now in danger of being guilty of sin of an unforgiving attitude---seeking vengeance rather than restoration.

From the reports he had received, Paul saw this and now begins to provide instruction. What is his advice? Forgive, comfort and love. I can almost hear a few cries from those who heard this letter. "What! Don't forget what he did to us!" Our reactions today may also become vindictive rather than restorative. Are we guilty of possessing an unforgiving spirit?

In Matthew 18:15-20, Jesus taught His disciples the principle of forgiveness. Immediately Peter wanted to know how many times we should forgive the one who sins against us. He even ventures a number seven (7) that would demonstrate we have a wonderful spirit of forgiveness. I am quite sure that Peter felt that the Lord would be pleased that he would be willing to forgive a brother who sinned against him seven times. Before we get too critical of Peter, think how you would respond if someone did something terrible to you, asked forgiveness, received your warm forgiving response then did the same thing again. Be honest! I think most of us would feel that two was all he was going to get. Peter was being very magnanimous in saying seven times.

Jesus was not satisfied with seven times. Our Lord said we are to forgive an offender seventy times seven. If my grade school math is operational, that is a total of 490 times. Can you even imagine what it would be like to be victimized hundreds of times and each time have the same warm spirit of forgiveness as before? Only God can give us that type of spirit. No amount of sermons, self-help seminars or good intentions will accomplish this. It is only by the grace of God that we achieve this level of growth.

Jesus taught that we are always to forgive. If you are keeping track of the number of times you have forgiven someone you need to learn what it means to truly forgive. Paul teaches that forgiveness is more than words. It is action. FORGIVE - COMFORT - LOVE. To use the term forgive without the comfort and love is just making noise without demonstrating action.

We need to experience the brokenness of heart and spirit until we are truly crucified with Christ. It is only then that we will receive His strength to forgive. When it is not within us to forgive we need to pray. "Please Lord, make me more like You."

Blessings dear hearts. Walk with God today. Trust Him completely and become a real blessing.

--- Pastor Cecil


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