Posts Tagged ‘Church Discipline’



December 31, 2012

“Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord, for the men treated the offering of the Lord with contempt.” 1 Samuel 2:17

The Parable of the Good Samaritan by Jan Wijna...

The Parable of the Good Samaritan by Jan Wijnants (1670) shows the Good Samaritan tending the injured man. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“A young man finished the late shift but was delayed in leaving work because it was payday.  He waited to receive his wages in cash because he had plans for the next day.  Due to the delay, the young man decided to take a shortcut home. While walking home, he fell among some gangbangers, who robbed him, stripped him of his clothes, and beat him half to death.

Now by chance, a pastor was driving through the area and saw the young man’s broken body in the gutter. Being in a hurry, he moved his car over to pass on the other side of the road.  He dialed 911 on his cell phone but did not have a signal.  He subsequently forgot about the limp body due to his mind being full of ministry thoughts.

So likewise, a young Christian couple driving home from a night of fellowship at their Church drove down this street and saw the young man struggling to rise.  Fearing that the same fate may befall them, they passed by on the other side of the road and sped away to safety – considering the fate of the faceless person a product of a series of poor choices.

But an atheist, as he journeyed, came to where the young man was and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him, performed first-aid and called 911.  He waited with the young man until the ambulance came and he followed the ambulance to the hospital.  Upon learning that the young man had no medical insurance, the atheist agreed to pay all the young man’s medical bills.”

Which of these three do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the gangbangers?

We all can see that the one who showed the young man mercy was the one who loved his neighbor as himself.  Jesus tells us, “You go, and do likewise.”  Helping the injured and abused young man is our example of what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Is is possible to show our neighbor this same kind of love before they make a fateful choice?

Now, consider what would be more loving to that young man; what if I could have gone to his place of work and warned him not to take the shortcut? What if I could have gone and given him a ride home so that he would have never gotten attacked in the first place?  It wouldn’t relieve me of any responsibility of helping him put his life back together if he refused my offer or advice but how unloving is it to allow him to blindly walk to his own destruction?

How merciless is it to stand at the crossroads and simply watch someone willingly choose the path that has abuse and heartache around the bend and say nothing.

Eli’s sons were worthless men.(1 Sam. 1:12) They were doing all sorts of sinful acts in their roles as priests. These guys were blatantly committing very great sins in the sight of God and the whole nation of Israel.  People were going up to Eli and telling him what his sons were doing but Eli wasn’t willing to do anything more than plead with them.

“And he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people. No, my sons; it is no good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad. If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sings against the Lord, who can intercede for him?” (1 Sam. 2:23-25)

Was it merciful for Eli to leave it there?

He had the authority to remove them.  Why wouldn’t he remove them from their positions of authority in the temple? I don’t know specifically why – it says in verse 29 that Eli honored his sons more than God. Therefore, it seems that Eli did not want to dishonor is sons.

How merciful was that? Eli knew the law; he even warned his sons of the consequences of their actions but he then stood by and watched as their impenitence led to their own destruction.  How loving was that?

The Church will be a messy place. I think that is a good thing. If it is not a little messy, I don’t know if people are being real. The mess in the Church is there because the Church is doing what it is supposed to do. The Church is a gift to us.  If the Church was not necessary then why did God give it to us?

The Church was given to us to help believers persevere to the end, to endure, to mature, to encourage each other, and to put Christ’s love and mercy on display (among other reasons).   We don’t do any of that perfectly.  There are times when we live our faith in very imperfect ways.  It is for those times that Christ instituted Church discipline by authorizing the apostles to prohibit or permit certain kinds of behavior (Matt. 18:18, John 20:23).  Jesus instituted Church discipline out of love.

There are some who abhor Church discipline and some who relish it.

Both attitudes are wrong and neither should be in Church leadership.

The purpose of Church discipline is to show the greatest love and mercy to someone who is at a crossroad and is picking the road that will lead to pain, heartache, and destruction. Church discipline in all its form is not to punish for punishment’s sake but to encourage true repentance and to call home someone who is straying into danger.

That is the most loving thing a brother or sister in Christ can do. 

However, it will be messy; there will be hurt feelings – unkind words – accusations. There was a cost to the good Samaritan.  Are you willing to bear the cost of showing mercy to your wayward brother or sister?

A Church without discipline, performed in loving and merciful manner with a primary concern for the person’s soul, is no longer a Church but merely a social club. A social club that is more concerned about the number of members than the condition of those members.

Be a real part of a real Church; it is for my good and it is for your own good!

PRAYER: Father, make me a man characterized by love and mercy.  Give me a compassion that compels me beyond my desire to avoid confrontation.  Help me to see my brothers and sisters spiritual conditions as you do and to care about it.  Lord, give me people in my life who will care enough about me to say something when they see me straying off course.  Create in me a heart that desires and appreciates loving concerns being brought to my attention. Lord, I am so acutely aware of my imperfections; give me a teachable heart that wants to be bound to you even when it hurts to hear the truth.  Amen

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