Friday after the Eighth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 2:1—3:3 (NKJV)
2:1 But I determined this within myself, that I would not come again to you in sorrow. 2 For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me? 3 And I wrote this very thing to you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow over those from whom I ought to have joy, having confidence in you all that my joy is the joy of you all. 4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you. 5 But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent—not to be too severe.
6 This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, 7 so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow. 8 Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him. 9 For to this end I also wrote, that I might put you to the test, whether you are obedient in all things. 10 Now whom you forgive anything, I also forgive. For if indeed I have forgiven anything, I have forgiven that one for your sakes in the presence of Christ, 11 lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.
12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened to me by the Lord, 13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I did not find Titus my brother; but taking my leave of them, I departed for Macedonia.
14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things? 17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.
3:1 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? 2 You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.
Sin and grace. Repentance and forgiveness. Confession and Absolution. The Christian life is bound up in these realities. We see this in today’s reading as St. Paul absolves the sinner who he excommunicated in 1 Corinthians 5. This man had been put out of the church to show him the severity of his sin. The excommunication apparently worked because St. Paul writes in today’s reading that “This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man, so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow.” The excommunication had caused this man to sorrow over his sins, confess them, and seek to amend his sinful life. He had sorrowed. Now it was time to absolve him and welcome him back into the body of Christ.
The Lord desires that all sinners sorrow over their sin, regret it deeply, and desire to amend their lives. He will write in chapter 7:10, “Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” Godly sorrow is what this penitent sinner possessed, because it led him to seek the absolution. If the church had left him to stew in his sorrow, or had they demanded works of satisfaction beyond repentance and faith, they would have surely driven him to worldly sorrow and eternal death. Praise be to God that he allows us to sorrow over our sins that He might lift us out of our sorrow by the absolution given by Christ.
Heavenly Father, grant us godly sorrow and repentance over our sins so that we may mourn them, but then seek Christ in true faith for the forgiveness of all our sins. Amen.