2 Corinthians 2 - Steve Wiggins Daily Devotional

“If anyone has caused pain, he has not caused pain to me, but in some degree – not to exaggerate – to all of you. The punishment by the majority is sufficient for such a person, so now you should forgive and comfort him instead; otherwise, this one may be overwhelmed by excessive grief. Therefore I urge you to confirm your love to him.” 2 Corinthians 2:5-8

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, in chapter 5, we learned of a situation where a man in the Corinthian Messianic community was sleeping with his stepmother. Furthermore, Paul was rebuking the congregational leaders for overlooking the sin, or at least downplaying it.

Apparently, the Corinthian leaders received Paul’s rebuke and disciplined the man, according to Paul’s instruction. Now, in his second letter to the Corinthian Messianic community, Paul suggests the incestuous offender’s punishment had been sufficient. It was time to restore him to fellowship. The man’s restoration was going to take a challenging measure of maturity, on behalf of the congregational leaders.

It is easier to live in a black & white, right & wrong world. It takes great discernment to restore those whom have been rebuked and expelled. We are generally bent on burying & forgetting old negative business, in favor of moving forward toward positive things.

I dread confronting sin. I find no pleasure in pulling people aside and holding them accountable, much less the task of removing people from the fellowship, altogether. Still, for the protection and greater good of the community, blatant unrepentant sin must be purged.

But how must a leader respond when the expelled person displays genuine repentance? True repentance involves more than simply shedding tears and saying, “I’m sorry”. It is observable character change, sustained over time.

I like how Paul instructs the leaders, while still respecting their leadership.

“Now to whom you forgive anything, I do too. For what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, it is for you in the presence of Messiah, so that we may not be taken advantage of by Satan for we are not ignorant of His intentions.” 2 Corinthians 2:10-11

For the truly repentant sinner, “shunning” should not last forever. A main goal of “putting a sinner out”, is to determine whether the offender is a true believer. If they can thrive outside of G_dly community, they probably aren’t believers. A true believer cannot thrive apart from the greater community of believers. True believers will repent and submit to the L_rd, His Word and the congregational leadership He has established.

If we refuse to restore the truly repentant believer, Satan has used our spiritual pride and arrogance to overwhelm the former sinner with undue grief, to our shame.

~Steve Wiggins, Associate Leader, Worship Leader
Shuvah Yisrael
Daily Devotional, Tuesday, September 17, 2013