“Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure — not to put it too severely– to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.” ~2 Corinthians 2:5-8
Disciplining children is probably 50% of what I do daily – (the other 50% is probably laundry and food prep!) and many days it’s wearisome. Truth is not arbitrary – when I parent, I am called to line up my boundaries, concerns and discipline with the truth of Scripture, not the truth of the day.
But as I have aged in this mothering thing, God has really taught me so much of His grace that abounds in the truth that must be our plumb line.
God’s grace never changes the straightness of truth — but it caresses the heart as it helps the heart bend in submission to the truth. That is my testimony throughout my life – my God in His great grace redeemed my anti-truth life and is in the process of making me more and more in His image and bending my heart more and more to His will.
But as the momma, I can be so put out with the “offender” – they’ve wrecked my plans, slowed me down, derailed the peace I had in the home, etc. I am quick to anger (and mostly it is unrighteous) and quick to respond-
Yet my God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love! That combination of attributes is completely linked together all throughout God’s word as His response to sin. (some passages are at the bottom) I on the other hand desire to rid the sin from the moment, cleave it off forever and become exasperated if I have to address that same sin repeatedly (and especially if it’s with the same child!)
Paul in this passage is talking to the church at Corinth in which there was great sin. Many in the church had refused to confront the sin initially. When they finally confront and discipline this sinner in this passage, he repents. So Paul lays out the very important last step for the church to do – turn to forgive and comfort him. With my children, I must follow my discipline all the way through to forgiveness and comfort. This requires time. This requires energy. This requires investment. I have to keep reminding myself of this! Their sorrow over their sin needs to be met with forgiveness and comfort. Paul warns that if it is not, if there is a part of me that withholds my comfort/my heart then Satan has a prime opportunity to step in. In verses 10-11, “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.“
Satan delights in my irritations about disciplining the same offense over and over. My flesh grows weary, and he offers thoughts “if they would just get this” or “how many times do I have to tell them” or “they never.” But God does not look at me with irritation remembering all the times before I’ve floundered here in the same areas of sin that I like to wallow in. 1 Corinthians 13:7 says “Love believes all things.” My perspective or filter for my child needs to be from God’s loving perspective. In the Greek “believe” is pisteuei which means to believe, entrust, have faith in. You see that is God’s filter for me – He has entrusted me with His grace, His fullness, His Spirit that I may walk with Him.
Later in 2 Corinthians 7 Paul does this comforting – He praises their godly sorrow, gives examples of their comfort for Titus which he says also comforts him. He commends their earnestness, eagerness to be different in verse 11. And he encourages them after the discipline by saying that they have pleased God, encouraged others, and then ends with this amazing nugget: 2 Cor. 7:16 “I rejoice, because I have complete confidence in you.” This statement takes my breath away – this statement comes after very painful, loving discipline in the church and after a while of watching them and seeing how they will walk out truth. But it comes. It is so powerful to speak these words of life into a soul that wonders if anything good can come from them, who fears that they may always be the disobedient, the stumbler, the mistake maker, the mean one, the selfish one, whatever condemning lies the enemy is whispering.
I rejoice with you because I have complete confidence in you, my child. I rejoice in your life, your fervor, your tenacity, your inquisitiveness, your independent streak, your boldness, and I have confidence that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. That is the blessing we can bestow on our children and reaffirm our love and give them a picture of God’s unconditional love.