A L O O K I N T O T H E A P O S T L E ' S H E A R T
Spring is on its way! The crocuses are blooming, and early daffodils are springing up from the ground. While these purple hyacinths are not in season yet, they do give us a clue to what we’re going to be discussing in today’s study. In the language of flowers, purple hyacinths represent forgiveness which is our topic for today.
This is a powerful and convicting topic for all of us. For I’m sure that at some point in life you have been wronged, hurt, or experienced the pain of injustice. However, as Christians we are called to forgive. Why? Because it is our way to victory and defeat of Satan. So let’s jump right in and see where we find this important lesson in our study of II Corinthians.
Last time, we looked at how discipline reveals love, and though unpleasant, it is for our good and building up. While this is a good lesson for us, Paul was originally writing to the Corinthians and sharing his heart and purpose for writing the discipline-packed book of I Corinthians. One of the many problems this young church was navigating was the blatant sin of one of their members. We do not know if this person was a leader in the church or not, but it is clear that the sinful choices of this one individual greatly affected the entire church body. (This is true for all of us; our sin affects those around us whether we realize it or not. But I digress, back to the Corinthians.) So this member’s sin caused damage to the entire church; however, with loving discipline this wayward member repented and turned from the error of his ways.
Now the Corinthians were faced with a difficult choice. Do we welcome him back in as if nothing had happened? Do we forget about all the pain and sorrow that he caused? And as happens with almost every decision-making process, I’m sure that there were differing opinions among the believers in Corinth.
Therefore, Paul decides to give them some guidance and in the process leaves us a powerful message of truth that is invaluable for us today. He encourages the Corinthians to reaffirm their love for this repentant brother, and then he writes this powerful statement:
“Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.”
~II Corinthians 2:10-11
Wow! Did you catch that! The implication in this passage is that Satan’s design is to bring division among the believers and unforgiveness is part of that plan. For lack of forgiveness brings enmity and division. God intended us to be unified under His headship and leadership. However, as sinful humans we hurt one another and hold on to that hurt or offence and struggle with forgiveness.
But we must not do this! We need to forgive. For Satan’s agenda is to divide and conquer, and when we are unwilling to forgive, we enable division which falls right into Satan’s plan of attack. How many church splits have occurred because either or both sides were unwilling to forgive? How many families have separated and grown distant because the various members were holding a grudge against one another? Much of the brokenness we see today within our culture, families, and churches is due in large part to stubbornness and an unwillingness to forgive.
Are we unaware of Satan’s designs? As we go about our day, are we conscientious of what gives him power and what destroys him? Do we implement our knowledge?
We are in a spiritual battle, and we have many weapons in our arsenal that can defeat Satan. One of these is forgiveness. So let’s use it and not be outwitted by Satan!
Another very important reason—the most important reason, in fact—why we ought to forgive is because if we do not forgive the wrongs done to us by others, God will not forgive us. Ouch! We tend to forget that one. But God’s Word is true and Jesus gave us this doubled-edged promise in Matthew 6:14-15:
“For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,
but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Therefore, let us be forgiving people who do not let wrongs and divisions stand between us for long, but are quick and willing to break down those strongholds by the power of God through the act of unconditional forgiveness.