There were two good sermons yesterday. Yesterday mornings’ from I Corinthians 1:10-11 on divisions and why me must be united as a body of Christ, and Yesterday evenings’ from 2 Corinthians and Psalms on why churches decline, plateau, and grow.
Yesterday, the issue of church discipline came up between myself and two others, about a situation that definitely needs to be handled. Which got me to thinking what the correct response is. Initially I thought, this is a no brainer. Strip them of their responsibilities, publicly embarrass them, ridicule the family, condemn them for their actions, and tie them to the stake. (Okay, maybe it wasn’t that harsh but I did have some fairly mean thoughts)
As I fumed all afternoon about the situation, my heart became harder and harder towards the situation and the fact that someone would have the odacity to defile themselves, the Lord, and his people in such a way. As the evening service began all I could think about was the situation and how “I” could handle it. But as I sat their in the service, the hard edges of my heart began to be chipped away.
The Lord reminded me of some past instances in my life. Then scripture came to mind, ” for all have sinned… There is none righteous… There is now no condemnation… you who are without sin cast the first stone… It is God who justifies…” and they just keep coming and coming. As I sat there I was reminded of the beatuy of grace and forgiveness. My thoughts then turned toward helping these individuals versus ostrachizing them.
So how do you handle church discipline? I t is definitely no easy thing to do. Matthew 18:15-17 says
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
I believe this is the best way to go for now, for the situation we are contending with. Is it right for every situation? I think it would depend on the seriousness of the infraction but this verse is definitely a good place to start. But there is one thing the Lord has assured me of, this is not “my” situation to handle and He is at work and in control and nothing happens that He doesn’t allow.
Thank you Lord for humble pie. Thank you Lord for your sovereignty. Most of all thank you for forgiveness.