Now, if anyone has made somebody sad, he has not done it to me but to all of you—in part, at least. (I say this because I do not want to be too hard on him.) It is enough that this person has been punished in this way by most of you. Now, however, you should forgive him and encourage him, in order to keep him from becoming so sad as to give up completely. And so I beg you to let him know that you really do love him.
Sometimes we have to do something we really don’t want to do. We know it will cause us considerable distress, that it will hurt us, and that the people we are dealing with are going to be hurt too. We want to avoid the pain, both for ourselves and also for those we know we will hurt.
But we know we must do it, because, if we really love the people involved, we must speak to them. Not to speak to them would be a loveless act. If we really love them, we cannot just stand by and let them hurt and perhaps even destroy themselves.
In this passage we see a pastor struggling with the same situation, the same emotions. Much as he is uncomfortable with what he must do, he knows he has to do it. But in his struggling he teaches us a lot. He teaches us that such an action must be done in love, not in hurt or anger. It must also be done in a spirit of forgiveness. And it must be done with a real determination that there will be reconciliation.
Remember this when you are confronted with this kind of situation.
Father, you loved me so much that you sent your Son to reconcile me with you. Help me to love my brothers and sisters so much that, when they hurt me, I too may seek reconciliation, in love. Amen.
by Robert Turnbull, in ‘Renewed Hope for each Day’ (LCA, Openbook, 2000)
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