Thank You Jesus!
The Straight Stuff
Well, letís get straight into it. This wonít take long. What we have in this lesion is a straight forward and simple lesson in Real Christian Love.
You know, itís easy to read Godís Word and see that it says things like we should be happy with those that are happy and be sad with those that are sad. The doing of it all is another thing however. On the surface, this may seem to be a lesson in forgiveness. It is. Even more, however, itís a lesson in Love. The forgiveness does not stem from nothing. It stems from Love that is rightly orientated to God Almighty. Just look at how Paul Loves his fellow Brothers and Sisters in the church.
1 So I said to myself, "No, I won't do it. I won't make them unhappy with another painful visit." 2 For if I cause you pain and make you sad, who is going to make me glad? 3 That is why I wrote as I did in my last letter, so that when I do come, I will not be made sad by the very ones who ought to give me the greatest joy. Surely you know that my happiness depends on your happiness. 4 How painful it was to write that letter! Heartbroken, I cried over it. I didn't want to hurt you, but I wanted you to know how very much I love you.
1 But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness. 2 For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me? 3 And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all. 4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.
Now, we all know from experience that itís easy to love the loveable. Jesus even warned us about only loving the loveable in the Gospels. Paul had clearly learned to share his love with even his enemies or those that would be enemies to him. I really do tend to think that he had a keen understanding of this because he, himself, was not only an enemy to God but, a violent enemy of God. Nevertheless, God forgave him and took him in, into the family of God, in Love and without pretense. God struck Paul as needed to straighten him out and, when straightened, God restored him.
This is the example that Paul follows and teaches here. Just look at what he does here.
5 I am not overstating it when I say that the man who caused all the trouble hurt your entire church more than he hurt me. 6 He was punished enough when most of you were united in your judgment against him. 7 Now it is time to forgive him and comfort him. Otherwise he may become so discouraged that he won't be able to recover. 8 Now show him that you still love him. 9 I wrote to you as I did to find out how far you would go in obeying me. 10 When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive him (for whatever is to be forgiven), I do so with Christ's authority for your benefit, 11 so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are very familiar with his evil schemes.
5 But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all. 6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, F5 which was inflicted of many. 7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. 8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. 9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. 10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person F6 of Christ; 11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
This man really was walking with God. I can tell you, with all that is in me, itís a real fight to let go of some things. I want to tell you true. Jesus gave us a powerful example in the parable of the forgiven servant who would not be forgiven. It is far too often for us all that we overlook, forget, push aside, and down right cover over our own sins. What we were forgiven for becomes ancient history to us. Iím not saying that we need to keep bashing ourselves over the head about our past sins. What I am saying is that we need to not forget just how far God wet to forgive us. We need to remember how vile we use to be and how clean God has made us. If we cannot remember what it was like to be in that mud hole of sin, we can quickly and surprisingly find ourselves in it again.
Another thing we must choose is a choice God made long ago. Is mercy outweighed by judgment? I think not. Both can exist with proper dispensation.
Notice also, how broad Paulís forgiveness was. He told them that whatever they would forgive the man of he would as well. He didnít itemize and make sure that all of the manís sin was spelled out. He simply said to forgive him of everything and restore the man. No matter what the man had done against Paul, Paul was still willing to see the man fully restored in Christ. This is the example of a man that remembers just what he was forgiven of and was willing to be like Christ. I wish that I could always say the same.
All Praise Be To God,