International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday August 10, 2014
Purpose: To recognize that when Christians offer forgiveness, the offender and the congregation grow in faith and grace
Bible Lesson:2 Corinthians 2:1-11
Background Scripture: 2 Corinthians 1:23-24
2 Corinthians 1:23-24 (CEB)
(23) I call on God as my witness—I didn’t come again to Corinth because I wanted to spare you. (24)It isn’t that we are trying to control your faith, but we are working with you for your happiness, because you stand firm in your faith.
2 Corinthians 2:1-11 (CEB)
(1) 1 So I decided that, for my own sake, I wouldn’t visit you again while I was upset. (2) If I make you sad, who will be there to make me glad when you are sad because of me?
(3) That’s why I wrote this very thing to you, so that when I came I wouldn’t be made sad by the ones who ought to make me happy. I have confidence in you, that my happiness means your happiness. (4) I wrote to you in tears, with a very troubled and anxious heart. I didn’t write to make you sad but so you would know the overwhelming love that I have for you.
(5) But if someone has made anyone sad, that person hasn’t hurt me but all of you to some degree (not to exaggerate). (6) The punishment handed out by the majority is enough for this person. (7) This is why you should try your best to forgive and to comfort this person now instead, so that this person isn’t overwhelmed by too much sorrow.(8) So I encourage you to show your love for this person.
(9) This is another reason why I wrote you. I wanted to test you and see if you are obedient in everything. (10) If you forgive anyone for anything, I do too. And whatever I’ve forgiven (if I’ve forgiven anything), I did it for you in the presence of Christ. (11) This is so that we won’t be taken advantage of by Satan, because we are well aware of his schemes.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
I think the best way I can help you understand today’s lesson is to give you the scripture text as it appears in the “Message” translation.
2 Corinthians 1:23-2:11 (The Message (MSG)
23 Now, are you ready for the real reason I didn’t visit you in Corinth? As God is my witness, the only reason I didn’t come was to spare you pain. I was being considerate of you, not indifferent, not manipulative.
24 We’re not in charge of how you live out the faith, looking over your shoulders, suspiciously critical. We’re partners, working alongside you, joyfully expectant. I know that you stand by your own faith, not by ours.
2 1-2 That’s why I decided not to make another visit that could only be painful to both of us. If by merely showing up I would put you in an embarrassingly painful position, how would you then be free to cheer and refresh me?
3-4 That was my reason for writing a letter instead of coming—so I wouldn’t have to spend a miserable time disappointing the very friends I had looked forward to cheering me up. I was convinced at the time I wrote it that what was best for me was also best for you. As it turned out, there was pain enough just in writing that letter, more tears than ink on the parchment. But I didn’t write it to cause pain; I wrote it so you would know how much I care—oh, more than care—love you!
5-8 Now, regarding the one who started all this—the person in question who caused all this pain—I want you to know that I am not the one injured in this as much as, with a few exceptions, all of you. So I don’t want to come down too hard. What the majority of you agreed to as punishment is punishment enough. Now is the time to forgive this man and help him back on his feet. If all you do is pour on the guilt, you could very well drown him in it. My counsel now is to pour on the love.
9-11 The focus of my letter wasn’t on punishing the offender but on getting you to take responsibility for the health of the church. So if you forgive him, I forgive him. Don’t think I’m carrying around a list of personal grudges. The fact is that I’m joining in with your forgiveness, as Christ is with us, guiding us. After all, we don’t want to unwittingly give Satan an opening for yet more mischief—we’re not oblivious to his sly ways!
The Message (MSG)
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