When You Have Been Wronged Part 2 of 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
“But if any one has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure—not to put it too severely—to you all. For such a one this punishment by the majority is enough; so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. Any one whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, to keep Satan from gaining the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his designs” (2 Corinthians 2:5-11). When sinners truly repent, we should forgive them and reaffirm our love for them. Otherwise, they might become discouraged and give Satan an opportunity to accuse them and to attack them. Love does not condone sin, but it does cover sin when God has washed it away.
Finally, I want to show you that Paul had an attitude of basic integrity. There are two kinds of integrity. Infused integrity is the reputation we hope to gain by what others say about us. Innate integrity is the character that is ours because of the person that we really are. One is counterfeit and the other in genuine. One is assumed and the other is inborn.
When we have been wronged, we should display the attitude of inherent integrity. We don’t have to answer every charge leveled against us. Our life and character should be able to answer for us. Paul wrote, “You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on your hearts, to be known and read by all men” (2 Corinthians 3:2)
Finally, there is a third truth that Paul taught, and that is that there are MINISTRIES TO FULFILL.
Paul said, “Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart” (2 Corinthians 4:1). In essence, Paul is saying, “In spite of the terrible wrong that has been done to me, I will not be discouraged, and I will not quit. I have a ministry to fulfill.” Too many people give up when they have been wronged. If Paul had been easily discouraged, he would have quit the ministry long before he reached Corinth. We cannot allow the criticism and ill will of others to distract us from our calling. We have ministries to fulfill. And the more quickly we begin to fulfill our ministry, the more quickly we will recover from the wrong that has been done to us. Friends, you and I have a ministry to fulfill. Let me share with you what some of those ministries are.
First, there’s the ministry of proclaiming Jesus Christ. Paul said, “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5). Paul’s message was clear and simple and could be summed up in a word, or even better, in a name, i.e., Christ Jesus. The singular object of Paul’s preaching was to confront men and women with the person of Christ. We have the same assignment today. We are to tell people about Jesus. Just tell them what he means to you.
Second, there’s the ministry of separating ourselves from the world. It says in 2 Corinthians 6:17, “Therefore come out from them, and be separate from them, says the Lord…” Paul is saying that in order to attain personal holiness and enjoy God’s presence, the Corinthians needed likewise to sever ties with pagan idolaters and false apostles. He was not saying that believers should avoid contact with unbelievers. On the contrary, he encouraged Christians to associate with the unsaved of the world. However, Paul was concerned that the Corinthians avoid fellowship or communion with pagans within the church. He did not want them to be led astray from sincere and pure devotion to Christ. Even when we are wronged by professing Christians, we have a ministry to fulfill. We must not allow wrongdoing to cause us to give up our faith and return to the world. We are called to separate ourselves from the world.
Third, there is the ministry of dedicating our possessions. You are probably like me. At one time I had a lot of possessions, but not now. Now I am forced to lean hard upon the Lord to supply my needs. But whatever we have let’s acknowledge that God has provided it and let’s dedicate it to Him. The Bible says, “Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). If you want spiritual enrichment from your giving, you must practice enjoyment and be glad for opportunities to give. Look at God’s promises to faithful givers! How can you lose?
Finally, there’s the ministry of celebrating our sufferings. Paul says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Paul is saying, “If God’s will is that this suffering stays with me, I will turn my suffering into celebration. It will become a ministry of celebration because my suffering is a living demonstration of Christ’s power to keep on going on.” A great Christian, by the name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who suffered greatly because of his faith, said this about suffering. “We must form our estimate of men less from their achievements and failures and more from their sufferings.”
Paul had a troublesome affliction. Most Bible teachers believe that it was a disease that affected his eyes and caused them to tear continually. It looked terrible and it caused him to have poor eyesight. He said that he “besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from him.” After his third request, God gave him an answer. He said, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” The problem will remain but it will always be accompanied by the enduring grace of God. And therefore, for Paul, this and every affliction reminded him that the power of Christ may rest upon him. Paul said, “This is the reason I have such an attitude, i.e., I take pleasure in infirmities. Not that I should suffer, for any reason except for Christ’s sake. The thrill of suffering for the sake of Christ is that when I am weak, then am I strong.”
When we have been wronged, WE HAVE LESSONS TO LEARN, ATTITUDES TO DISPLAY, AND MINISTRIES TO FULFILL. Whatever wrongs we have faced, we can say along with Paul, “…Thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumph…” (2 Corinthians 2:14).