Happy Mother’s Day!
For some, today will be a happy day, but for others it is bittersweet. Life doesn’t always turn out like we anticipated, but we’re grateful for the blessings God gives us along the way. Some of you are missing your own mothers; others have had to say goodbye to children far too early. Some of you never knew your mom, or perhaps never had children of your own. Whatever emotions today brings your way, I pray for you to know the unfailing, abundant, satisfying, and comforting love of the Father and our Savior Jesus. In Him, we are family, and He meets all our relationship needs and fills up the missing pieces in a way that only the Holy Spirit can.
Over the past couple of days, I began Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church. It’s interesting to read about the relationship he had developed with this body of believers. As you remember, his first letter was pretty strong and confrontational. They were a worldly group of Christ-followers, allowing sinful practices to go on, even in the church, without holding one another accountable. They were also immature in their knowledge of scripture, failing to grow up spiritually. Paul had said some harsh but necessary things for their good.
We’re not sure of the exact sequence of events but at some point, Paul had personally confronted this church. Words were spoken that had caused conflict. As an apostle and an elder, he had exercised his God-given responsibility of church discipline. Feelings were hurt. Emotions were high. Accusations had come to light and sin had been confronted. Apparently, when he left there had been a rift in the relationship that was as yet unresolved. Paul had also promised a return visit, but had changed his mind, deciding that if he came back too soon, he would cause them even more sorrow. He had stayed away to give time for God to do a work in their hearts, so their relationship could be restored.
2 Corinthians 2:1-4 – But I determined this for my own sake, that I would not come to you in sorrow again. For if I cause you sorrow, who then makes me glad but the one whom I made sorrowful? This is the very thing I wrote you, so that when I came, I would not have sorrow from those who ought to make me rejoice having confidence in you all that my joy would be the joy of you all. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you.
Paul loved this group of people like they were his own children, and they had broken his heart with their sin. He had to take a step back, while God did the work.
Now, though, he hears the body has been restored, and the one(s) who were openly sinning had apparently repented and returned. Paul wants to make it clear that he holds no grudges, that he also freely forgives the errant child of God, welcomes him back into the family, and urges the church to reaffirm their love for him. He does this for two reasons.
First, he does not want the one who sinned but eventually repented, to be “overwhelmed by excessive sorrow” (2 Corinthians 2:7). Second, he knows if unforgiveness remains, it provides Satan with an advantage and an opportunity to cause further hurt and conflict in the body.
2 Corinthians 2:10-11 – But one whom you forgive anything, I forgive also; for indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ, so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.
What a great example and message for us on a day when we’re focused on relationships. God’s desire is for mothers and fathers and sons and daughters, both in our physical families and our spiritual communities, to learn how to forgive, love, and restore one another. Let’s face it; we say things and do things that cause hurt and pain. We make mistakes, and we also sin intentionally and maliciously against one another. God’s heart is that we repent, both to Him and to those we’ve hurt, and ask forgiveness, and for the one who has been hurt to receive it with a heart to extend mercy and grace, reaffirming our love and restoring the relationship.
Satan loves nothing more than to keep a good family conflict going. He rejoices when we dread our family gatherings, when we hold onto past hurts and keep our hearts hardened against any attempt at reconciliation. Unforgiveness leads to bitterness that steals the years away until we find ourselves lonely and hateful old people that no one wants to be around.
Today is a good day to forgive.
Today is a good day to restore.
Today is a good day to set aside our differences.
Today is a good day to reaffirm our love and stop causing excessive sorrow over past hurts that people have apologized for many times.
Today is a good day to say, “I love you” and mean it.
Is there anyone you need to forgive? Is there anyone who needs to know that you still love them and are willing to start anew? Ask God for the strength and love and grace to repent, to forgive, and to forget. That would be a great way to celebrate Mother’s Day.