In 2 Corinthians 2:5–11, Paul confronted the Church about the way it treated a man who had been punished for an offense he had committed. The man had repented, yet the Church did not offer forgiveness or comfort to him.
Paul’s admonishment in this passage got me thinking about how we treat those who have been or are currently incarcerated. How do we show forgiveness and offer comfort to those who have harmed individuals and society? What is our role when those who have been punished come back home? Do we forgive, comfort and help? Or do we punish them further?
These questions can make us uncomfortable. And they should. But they are questions that we as Christ-followers should be asking the Church and society.
I have received many thoughtful responses after posing these questions during a recent Zoom call with mentors. One mentor, Mark, shared these insightful thoughts:
“A passage that comes to mind is Luke 23:32–43, where Jesus remembered the prisoner while on the cross. We don’t know what the man did, but we know that Jesus knew what he had done to deserve death. But Jesus didn’t ask. He just forgave him because the prisoner knew he needed Jesus and was desperate for His provision. The prisoner, according to the Word, didn’t even confess—he simply asked Jesus to remember him.”
And Jesus responded, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
May we follow the model Jesus provided by extending forgiveness and comfort to those who need it.
As you write to your students this week, reflect on our tendency to hold on to grudges, anger and bitterness as we struggle to forgive others. Encourage your students to pray for those who have wronged them, no matter the offense. Explain why this is important. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
Serving alongside you,
Church Mobilization Director
Crossroads Prison Ministries
SPECIAL MAILING TO STUDENTS
We recently mailed more than 18,000 copies of a 90-day devotional to students. The devotional booklets were generously donated by Our Daily Bread Ministries. We sent them as a gift to our students. But we also sent them so that students would have a resource to keep them in God’s Word in case we are unable to process lessons for a time. Students whose facilities do not allow them to receive booklets received a “Read the Bible in 90 Days Challenge” instead.
If you would like to learn more about Our Daily Bread and sign up to receive their devotionals, visit odb.org.
If you would like to take the “Read the Bible in 90 Days Challenge” along with the students who received it, visit bibleplan.org/plans/bible-in-90-days.