In this passage, Paul is addressing a situation in Corinth, where someone led a rebellion against Paul in order to preach their own false gospel. Paul says that this person didn't harm him, but brought pain to everyone in the Corinthian church by leading them away from Paul, and in turn away from Christ. The church in Corinth had expressed their repentance by punishing the leader of the rebellion, and in this passage, Paul is calling them to extend mercy to the offender.
Paul, even in the midst of a person intentionally bringing people away from Christ, is calling the church to extend mercy and forgiveness, just as Christ has forgiven us. And Paul extends it even further by commanding the church to reaffirm their love for the man who led them astray. As followers of Christ, the church is to follow the example of grace and mercy and forgiveness, and Paul warns us that Satan will use any pieces of bitterness, anger, or lack of forgiveness against the body, and we are to be on the lookout for how the enemy uses hurt and pain to draw us away from one another and away from Christ.
We all have people in our life that have hurt us in some way, whether big or small, and God desires that there be forgiveness in his kingdom. One step we can take towards forgiveness is to first take time and ask God where there is bitterness or grudges in our heart, and then ask Him to give us the grace to start forgiving those who have wronged us. Forgiveness is one of the most difficult things for us to do, but God, who forgives us for infinitely more than we could imagine, is willing to help us forgive and follow his example of mercy.
God, I pray that you would give us all the grace to follow in your footsteps, and would you search our hearts and show us where we have anger or bitterness towards anyone. God, would you help us to forgive anyone who has wronged us, and would you be glorified in that. We love you and we need you. Amen!
Author | Hunter MacInnis