Are you aware of the fact that the church (and I’m not referring to one specific local church or even a denomination, I’m talking about all of the church which is made up of all the believers) is made up of imperfect people? You are? Good. Because I don’t want to be the guy that bursts your bubble.
Yep. Whenever people are involved, there will be difficulties. People mess up. Sometimes there are what might be considered minor infractions and sometimes there will be major sins. Yeah, I know. Big surprise.
Back in 1 Corinthians chapter 5, Paul addressed a major sin that was happening there in the church at Corinth. There was a man who was married to his father’s wife. It was an incestuous relationship, and Paul chastised them for not dealing properly with the sin. In fact, they were not dealing with it at all. Paul even said that they were being arrogant about it. Accepting of it. He told them that they should remove the man from their fellowship. He said, “… hand such a person over to Satan to destroy his corrupt nature so that his spiritual nature may be saved on the day of the Lord.”
Do you remember that?
Are you aware that we Christians sometimes do that today? Thing is, as far as I know, it rarely happens in local churches. You know where it happens quite often? When a prominenant, well known Christian’s sins become known. Then we ostracize him or her. We destroy them. We cast them out.
In my years of podcasting, I have been blessed to have gotten to know several Christian recording artists pretty well. And I have heard more than once how this person or that person lost a career because the church found out about a sin in their life.
You say, “Well, Steve. Isn’t that what Paul told the Corinthians to do? Isn’t that the Biblical thing to do?”
Let’s take a look at chapter two from our reading today. In the first four verses, Paul reminds them of the fact that he told them that he had wanted to visit them. But then he said that he didn’t come because he was distressed because of the situation with the incestuous man. His previous writing to them about this was done tearfully, and he was deeply troubled and anguished.
Is that how we feel when we find sin in the life of someone we hold in high esteem? I’m not so sure.
And then Paul goes on here in chapter two to say that “The majority of you have imposed a severe enough punishment on that person.“ It’s enough.
So now what? Paul continues. “So now forgive and comfort him. Such distress could overwhelm someone like that if he’s not forgiven and comforted. 8 That is why I urge you to assure him that you love him.”
Let that person know that you still love him. Don’t let him become overwhelmed. Why? Because then the enemy has a chance to come in and keep him from being restored.
Friends, I have seen that happen to more than one person, because we don’t take the extra step of reaching out to them once they have dealt with the sin. We continue to rub their noses in it. We don’t forgive them. It’s shameful.
How can we claim to represent a loving God who is faithful and just to forgive if we don’t forgive? How can we expect to be forgiven for our sins if we won’t forgive the sins of others?