“This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, 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. Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him.” – 2 Corinthians 2:6-8
In case you haven’t heard, forgiveness is important. In fact, our Christian life doesn’t work without it. Jesus forgave us, so it just doesn’t work for us to withhold forgiveness from those who’ve hurt us.
To help you in this forgiveness thing, let me give you the don’ts of forgiveness. First, don’t internalize the hurt. Now, I would be a hypocrite if I said not to personalize it. Just face it, hurt hurts, which makes it pretty impossible not to personalize it. I’m just saying don’t let it affect who you are. Let Christ determine who you are, not your pain.
Second, don’t make it more than it needs to be. In our verse today, Paul is saying that the punishment was more than sufficient for the crime. God’s heart is always as David prayed in Psalm 51 (the psalm he wrote after he committed adultery and murder), “God, restore unto me the joy of Your salvation.” God wants us to be restored, or He wouldn’t have bothered sending Jesus so that we could be forgiven, and we need to pray for restoration for those who hurt us.
Third, don’t miss the opportunity to be merciful. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. James 2:13 says, “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Whatever offense you have, mercy wins. And if you want mercy instead of judgment, you’d better give mercy instead of judgment.
Fourth, don’t limit God’s love. Scripture says that love keeps no record of wrongs. If we have God’s love in us then we have to do the same. Don’t limit God’s love working in and through you to forgive.
Fifth, don’t fail the forgiveness test. Forgiveness is a test of our obedience to Christ Jesus, because He didn’t leave us a choice. He didn’t say, “These things you must forgive, but these other things are too terrible to forgive.” No, He said we must forgive, period.
Paul could not rest until this issue of forgiveness was settled. He knew that no one could see Christ in him until it was. What issue do you have unsettled in your life? Choose to forgive today, so that you may be free, and so that others might see Jesus in you.
I know that what’s been done to me doesn’t measure up to what I’ve done to You, and I don’t want to fail the forgiveness test. I choose to forgive those who have hurt me and I extend mercy to them. Please bring restoration! Heal my heart and set me free!