2 Corinthians 1:23 But I (the apostle Paul) call on God as witness against me: it was to spare you that I did not come again to Corinth (but wrote you a strongly worded letter instead)… 4 For I wrote you out of much distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you. 5 But if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but to some extent—not to exaggerate it—to all of you. 6 This punishment by the majority is enough for such a person; 7 so now instead you should forgive and console him, so that he may not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.
This passage is a bit confusing without the back story. Apparently Paul had an ugly encounter with someone in the Corinthian church during a prior visit. And it was Paul’s opinion that the rest of the people in Corinth did not handle it well. They did not adequately stand up for Paul against this person, nor did they immediately bring discipline against him – though they ultimately removed him from the church.
6 This punishment by the majority is enough for such a person.
Discipline came, but not before the person was allowed to divide the church. This is a common problem in Christian community today. We refuse to hold people accountable for destructive behavior, allowing it to continue far too long. And there’s nothing that encourages destructive behavior more than others’ passivity.
As a leader, refusing to confront destructive behavior is not being “nice”. It is being “irresponsible”.
I certainly understand how this can happen. Like most people, I don’t particularly enjoy confrontation. But if like me you’re in a position of leadership, and most of you are, dealing with bad behavior comes with the territory. When we let it go, we’re simply not doing our job – at home, at work, at school, at church, wherever. As leaders we are called to preserve an environment that is life-giving for everyone. Sometimes easier said than done…
Lord Jesus, though it may be difficult, give us grace to confront destructive behavior where we find it. Amen.