7 so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow.
7 so that,
The words “so that” indicate the consequence of verse 6. Instead of disciplining the individual further after he repented, we are to forgive and comfort him. The objective of church discipline is the restoration of a believer who repents.
on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him,
The word for “forgive” here carries the idea to give freely. The root of the word is grace. The idea then is to forgive because of a gracious attitude. That is how God forgave us–by grace.
Forgiveness here is more than an emotion or feeling. It requires acting to restore the offender so that he is not overwhelmed with grief.
The church should not only forgive the sin of the man who challenged Paul’s authority but also comfort him. If the discipline was “sufficient,” then forgiveness is necessary. Forgiveness means that the church will not punish him further. Forgiveness was not enough for this man; he needed “comfort.” He required their support and encouragement (Ga 6:1).
lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up [overwhelmed] with too much sorrow.
It is possible that the sinful man might be overwhelmed by grief from church discipline. That might drive him to despair, discouraging him from continuing to live in fellowship with God and the church. Guilt is never a good motivator for Christian living.
Christian ministry does not fight fire with fire but with constructive love.
The acid test is whether we can forgive someone who offends us. The shriveled soul dams up ability to love. Attitudinal sin inhibits spiritual life. It takes mature faith to rise above personal attack. It is worse to injure than to be injured. To kick someone who is down conveys a spirit of unforgiveness. Christians should never hold past sins against an offender who has confessed his sin.
Forgiveness does not excuse sin, nor does it ignore it. The danger of church discipline is to go to one extreme or the other. Some churches ignore church discipline altogether, and other churches try to punish the offender rather than disciplining him. It is wrong to ban the offender, and it is a mistake to avoid dealing with him. A person who does not forgive lets others steal his joy and control his thinking. That is why Jesus said to forgive others as much as necessary (Mt 18:21-22; 2 Th 3:6, 14-15).