Paul begins his second letter to the church in Corinth with some very interesting words. In case you are not aware of it, his first letter was rather confrontational because he was addressing several difficult problems that were going on in that church. Yes, 1 Corinthians 13 is the beautiful chapter on love, but there were problems going on in that church.
Perhaps the biggest issue was that there was a man who was having sex with his father’s wife. She was his stepmother, and the church was kind of “puffed up” that they could be accepting of this behavior. Even though it was clearly an inappropriate sexual sin they were proud that they could be accepting of this behavior. Which makes sense because Corinth had been the home of the Temple of Aphrodite where 1000 women and men served as sex slaves.
So, Paul had plenty of harsh words to the Corinthians on this matter even telling them that he had;
“…decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
The church responded to Paul’s rebuke and dealt with this sin treating this brother very harshly, something in which churches today can excel. Therefore, Paul writes a second letter to ask them to call off the dogs and begin to show comfort and mercy to one another.
Here are his opening words in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4;
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
It is my most sincere desire that these are the two verses that govern how we help people in 180 Ministries. As God has comforted us in all our afflictions, so to should we comfort one another.
One of the reasons so many believers live in secret shame and do not tell anybody about their use of porn is because they know that there will be a strong and painful reaction. If a husband confesses to his wife, it will seriously damage their relationship and potentially end their marriage. This can be from a reaction of unforgiveness because something in her past has wounded her and this sin carries with it so much pain for her.
Or, as was the case in my situation, my sexual sin had gone so far that I should have left the ministry years before. When we are holding on to our secret sin, we are living in great fear that the truth can hurt everyone around us and most certainly will damage us.
I am not saying that there should not be consequences for our sin. Paul writes in Romans 6 and says;
“The wages of sin is death.”
We use that verse when talking to unbelievers but when Paul wrote them, he was talking to believers. Sin always kills something.
Now, certainly, when there has been sexual sin there need to be consequences. However, when there is also confession with repentance there needs to be forgiveness expressed in comfort and mercy.
Our Father is the God of all Mercy and Comfort. Sure, as a loving Father he disciplines us when we sin but when we repent, doing a 180, He is there to show us His mercy and comfort.
That is why Paul then says that when we have received Mercy and Comfort from our Father, we need to show the same to others who have repented from their sins and are trying to return to a life being lived according to God’s will.
180 is a place of mercy and comfort. I have received it from my Father, and I try to offer it to you. I show my 180 leaders mercy and comfort and they, in turn, are showing it to the people in their groups. I show mercy and comfort to every man on the Online Support Teams and they begin to show it to one another.
Now is there ever a time to get in someone’s face and be bold and direct about their actions? Yes, there are those moments when tough love needs to be shown. However, when we have received for ourselves Mercy and Comfort from God our Father, He wants us to pass it on to one another.
After all, Jesus did not say to his disciples that the world will know we are His disciples if we discipline one another, casting out the sinner who does not show remorse and repents. He said;
The world will know that we are His followers
when we demonstrate Love for one another.
We show love for one another when we give mercy and comfort to others as God has given mercy and comfort to us.