Fellowship Restored

2 Corinthians 2:10-11 “But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”

Observation:  Someone in the Corinth church had done something that caused everyone great pain, and he had been disciplined by the church. But apparently there were some who felt his punishment should have been more severe; they wanted to increase the man’s sorrow. Paul knew that such excessive discipline would crush the man’s spirit and cautioned against it.

Application: The purpose of discipline is always to restore the sinner, not to drive him further away from fellowship. Paul knew that when discipline is excessive,  Satan could use it to drive a wedge into the church. Paul calls us to remember what we know of Satan’s schemes, and to behave so as to give him no ground, no place of authority from which to operate in our lives.

I recall, with sadness, times in the past when I wanted to discipline to the point of making someone sorrowful. I realize that I was acting from my own anger, and not for the good of the one to be disciplined.

Christ’s love compels me to discipline when needed, to bring a word of correction or warning. But I must always first examine my own heart to be sure I am compelled by His love for that individual and always act so that there is a genuine invitation to restoration of relationship. God loves me enough to bring correction when it’s needed. His discipline in perfect, clear-eyed love is always for the purpose of restoring me to fellowship with Him and with those around me.

Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for overcoming and covering my sin. Teach me how to serve others around me in the same way, from the same motivation. Teach me how to bring correction in such a way as to draw them closer to You, rather than to cause greater anguish or division. Bind me to Your heart in this, Lord, and loose from me every scheme of Satan to bring pain or division.

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