“When we arrived in Macedonia, there was no rest for us. We faced conflict from every direction, with battles on the outside and fear on the inside. But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus. His presence was a joy, but so was the news he brought of the encouragement he received from you. When he told us how much you long to see me, and how sorry you are for what happened, and how loyal you are to me, I was filled with joy! I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.” 2 Corinthians 7:5-10 NLT
Discipline of any kind isn't pleasant. Paul had written a strong rebuke to the Corinthians concerning their allowing someone to undermine his authority. The letter was so strong that he was concerned that it may have been too harsh. He knew that it was necessary to set things in order, but he also loved these people. He didn't want to hurt them, he wanted to correct them. Any parent who has had to impose discipline on a child when they have blatantly disobeyed what they know to be the standard can relate to this. I have heard parents say to their children "this hurts me as much or more than it hurts you" when they were administering punishment. When a parent genuinely loves their child it can be painful to have to punish a child but the purpose of the punishment is to help the child recognize their violation and change their ways. Through the temporary pain of punishment we see the long term benefit of obedience and the added benefit of future blessing. Hebrews 12:10-11 says it this way "For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” NLT
At times, in the church there are episodes of misconduct. Dealing with the issues isn't pleasant, but necessary. When there is genuine love involved in any matter of the church, it can be deeply painful to endure the anguish of heart that is involved. However, when we endeavor to do the right thing, God will honor it. The results will be determined by the hearts of those who are the recipients.
Paul received word from Titus that the letter had, indeed, set things in order and caused an outpouring of love and support for him from the Corinthian church. Oh, how every pastor longs for the same in every circumstance. Let us strive to bring peace and harmony as we submit to the Lord Jesus Christ. When we truly want to please Jesus, we will desire healing through repentance and seek to be in submission and unity with those who are over us. It is always refreshing to leaders when we experience unity in the church. The pains that come from disunity and disciplinary issues can be deeper than anyone, except God, can even know.
We need to ask ourselves this question: Are we in submission to authority and are we actively working to bring ourselves in line with God's Word? When we do, unity will always result.
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, I ask You to search my heart and see if there is anything that is out of line with You and Your Word. Please purge me and place me in correct standing with You. Help me to submit to those You have placed over me. May my life bring them joy.
Rev. Curtis Norris