Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – July 5, 2018
By Tripp Prince
If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him. 2 Corinthians 2:5-8 (NRSV)
Life in community is not safe. It’s risky business to open yourself to others and to have them open to you. Life in isolation, closed off from others, is the surest path to a life free of relational wounds and pain. Yet we are made in the image of a God who is a community of love, and to deny our need for community is to reject something foundational to what it means to be a human being. We are made for love and made to live life together, and so we press into the costly and risky pursuit of community.
Paul, in 2 Corinthians, reminds us of our capacity to wound others. As the Anglican confession reminds us, we sin by “what we have done, and by what we have left undone.” Sometimes we grieve others by actively choosing actions, behaviors, and attitudes that go against the men and women we desire to be. Yet sin is also a failure to love. How many times have you and I had an opportunity to show our love for the people closest to us, yet out of selfishness, exhaustion, or simple inattentiveness, we let the moment pass.
When we sin against others or are sinned against, often we think its impact is limited. It’s just a private disagreement between a husband and wife. It’s a short-tempered outburst against a co-worker that doesn’t affect anyone else at the office. Or it’s a disagreement between two believers within the church community that’s surely isolated and unconnected to the wider body. Paul seeks to remind us of a profound truth: sin is always communal. Our failures to love, the wounds we inflict and receive, impact us and others in more ways than we can possibly imagine!
When a marriage falls apart, there are children, extended family members, and countless friends who bear the weight of the grief and the pain of the broken relationship. When a long serving employee suddenly leaves a position amidst disagreement or scandal, it often takes months or years for the workplace culture to return to a place of health and mutual respect. And when fellowship within the family of God is broken, we fail to reflect the self-giving love of God to the world.
As such, in the Kingdom of God, restoration is always the goal. To the extent you are personally able, you must always give yourself to the hard work of restoration and reconciliation. Forgiveness is not the denial that you have caused pain or been hurt by others. You may still live with acute grief, anger, and loss. Yet we deeply believe that love, not grief, will have the last word. We look at death through the power of the resurrection, and believe that same power is at work in every strained and broken relationship we face. As Julian of Norwich said, “It is true that sin is the cause of all this pain, but all will be well, and every kind of thing will be well.”
PrayerFather, thank you that you are reconciling the world to yourself. Give us the faith and courage to join you in the hard work of reconciliation and restoration in our relationships and communities, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
ApplicationWhat relational wound do you carry that needs the healing touch of our Lord Jesus? How can you reaffirm your love for the person you’ve wounded or that has wounded you?
Related ReadingMatthew 18:33; Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 4:32
Post/Tweet todaySin is a failure to love and love forgives sinners. #WisdomHunters #relationalhealing
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