How do you handle overwhelming and profound sadness? How do you respond when another responds to you with not with words that edify but words that are like swords? Are we a confronter or do we love from a distance? Do we step aside or do we confront? Do we forgive or do we withhold that gift? We can learn much about how this affects but better yet how to handle these situations from Paul’s responses to the church in Corinth where he had personally experienced this firsthand However, in light of eternity he has chosen not for us to know the person nor the situation but only the ramifications and the cure.
There will be times when others offend and we are the recipients of that offense. As hard as it is, we have the choice of what to do in those situations. We can forgive and restore that relationship or we can withhold it. We can learn from Paul what steps to take and why. Paul essentially is telling the church at Corinth that although a person has offended him he has forgiven him. Thus they are to follow in his footsteps and also forgive.
Forgiveness seems to be one of the hardest steps we are called to take. Why is that? Is it pride? Is it because we want the offender to feel the pain we are feeling? We often reject taking this step and in fact we feed on the reasons why we don’t have to. Beloved this only leads to a root of bitterness. But Paul uses the word “charizomai” which means to freely forgive as Christ has forgiven you. To not take this step is not only is sinful but childish. Paul reminded us in 1Cor 13:11 “When I was a child, I talked like a child; I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways.” There is a principle we can employ here: Christian love includes both discipline but also forgiveness.
What is the consequence of withholding forgiveness? First and foremost Mat 6:15 But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins. Secondly, a lack of forgiveness leads to a root of bitterness. Thirdly, we open the door to the work of the enemy. Beware lest we allow the enemy who roams about seeking whom he can devour an open door to divide and conquer the Body of Christ. “Satan has many plans to deceive, and knows how to make a bad use of our mistakes.” [M. Henry]
We are left with some questions: What weak point is Satan seeking to exploit in our life? Where is he seeking to gain a foothold? Are we wise or ignorant of the schemes of the enemy? Are we employing forgiveness to those who have offended us whether they seek it or not? Forgiveness truly is the balm that heals a wound.