2 Corinthians 2:5-11
But if any have caused grief, he has not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all.…
I. CHURCH DISCIPLINE SHOULD BE ADMINISTERED BY THE CHURCH. "This punishment which was inflicted by the many" (ver. 6). Not by an individual, be he the pope himself, nor by priests or clergy, but by the whole body of the individual Church or a majority of its members. A Christian has a right to be judged by his peers.
II. CHURCH DISCIPLINE SHOULD EVER HAVE IN VIEW RESTORATION. Its object is not to punish the offender so much as to do him good, and at the same time to preserve the Church's purity. Church discipline should not be regarded as a final act towards the backslider, but with it should ever be associated prayers and hope that the severance may be brief. The Church rejects that she may accept; she casts out that she may receive back again. So Church discipline should never be of a character to hinder repentance or to render restoration impossible.
III. CHURCH DISCIPLINE SHOULD BE ADMINISTERED WITH GREAT DISCRETION,
1. On the one hand, it may be too slight and not produce suitable effects.
2. On the other, it may be so excessive as to drive the offender to despair.
3. In either case Satan will gain an advantage (ver. 11), which he is ever seeking and has often found when the Church or its leaders have attempted the delicate task of discipline. The Church's discipline of persecution and intolerance has served the devil's purposes admirably in many a dark century. And the Church's discipline of indifference and false charity has done similar service in many a century boasting of its light and breadth of thought and liberty.
IV. PENITENCE ON THE PART OF AN OFFENDER IS A STRONG ARGUMENT FOR PROMPT RESTORATION TO FELLOWSHIP. The duty of restoration is not so fully recognized as it might be. Often it is the predilection of the powers that be, rather than the condition of the offender, which determines whether he shall be restored or not. But when the honour of the Church has been vindicated, and the offender is undoubtedly contrite, the way of duty is clear. A Church which will not restore then, deserves to be excommunicated itself,
V. RESTORATION IS NOT TO BE TO TOLERATION, BUT TO LOVE. The love is to exist whilst the discipline is being inflicted. It is to manifest itself' unreservedly when discipline is removed. Many are restored to suspicion, coldness, contempt - a restoration which paves the way for a more fatal fall. If God forgives some professing Christians as they forgive others (and this is their frequent prayer), their share of the Divine forgiveness is likely to be a very slender one. - H.
Parallel VersesKJV: But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all.