It has been said that the church is the only institution that shoots its wounded. When there has been moral failure or exposed sin, or even just questionable behavior, then the church has been quick to punish. Excommunication, while not formally practiced, has been informally exercised in the church. People who don’t measure up are often ostracized or put down or maligned. The truth is: Sheep bite.
But the Scriptures call us to accountability. Some sins require public action. But there is never a call to punish. There is not a call to condemn. Still there is much confusion. Some say, “we are not to judge” referring to Jesus’ words in Matthew seven, yet Paul says in I Corinthians 5:12 that we are to judge those inside the church who are sinning.
If you carefully examine the passage in Matthew 7, you will see that Jesus tells us to judge ourselves first before judging others.
Then in First Corinthians, Paul tells us to be responsible and hold those who continue to practice willful sin accountable. The emphasis is on “continuing to practice willful sin”.
But what about those who are not willfully continuing in sin, but have fallen? How do we treat them? Even Christians sometimes morbidly love a good hanging. We sometimes secretly delight in the fall of another. We want to see the guilty punished.
Church discipline should look more like setting a broken bone than just breaking bones. We should be careful, Paul warns the Galatians, when we help someone in sin that we don’t fall into the same temptation ourselves.
We need less indignation and more gentleness and humility. Sin has its own wages—it pays only death. Our job is not to break bones, but heal them.
-Pastor Dino Griffin
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