LIONS AND TIGERS AND BEARS -- AND CHURCH DISCIPLINE -- OH MY!
- Key Verse
- Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:8)
- READ THE CHAPTER
We have a responsibility to each other as believers to challenge one another when our walks are not consistent with our talk. This may even mean separation if the brother or sister does not repent and is boastful in his or her sin.
ReflectionsWOW! Paul's letter to the Corinthians could have been written to the church in America today. Our society embraces just about everything, and sadly, the church is rarely different from the culture in which we live. The Corinthians had a low view of sin and were even being boastful and arrogant about it. Does this sound familiar?
In this chapter, Paul says the church should address issues when fellow believers are behaving in a manner not worthy of their calling and should take serious action when they do not repent. (See also Matthew 18:15-17, Galatians 6:1, and Todd Wagner's Lord of the Ring series included in his 2003 messages.) Honestly, church discipline has taken a bad rap because the church has not fully sought God, His Word, and His ways in dealing appropriately with this issue. The church has failed by being too self-righteous, harsh, and unloving in its approach, or it has failed in the other extreme by ignoring issues altogether in the name of tolerance.
Warren Wiersbe says, "Church discipline is not a group of 'pious policemen' out to catch a criminal. Rather, it is a group of brokenhearted brothers and sisters seeking to restore an erring member of the family." A spirit of humility, love, truth, and grace should characterize all confrontations with fellow believers.
Paul also clarifies a statement in an earlier letter about not associating with "immoral" people. In 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, he wants us to understand that this does not mean unbelievers, but rather refers to believers who are living immorally. It is not a surprise that people who do not know Christ do not live in a way that honors Him. Rather than judgment and separation, our responsibility toward them is to exercise love, truth, and grace. Do you see a pattern?
Dr. Thomas Constable says, "Many Christians today struggle with an unbiblical view of separation that tends more toward isolationism than sanctification." So our challenge is to be bold, discerning, and loving when contemplating using the "holy hammer" with fellow believers. And we must use caution not to "holy huddle" -- that is, to isolate ourselves from unbelievers or to ignore our responsibility to deal biblically with believers living immorally. Both give us multiple opportunities to grow and to glorify God when done in a manner that pleases Him.
Discussion Questions1. Do you tend to "holy hammer" or "holy huddle"?
2. Are there believers in your life or community group from whom you are withholding correction because it is awkward and uncomfortable for you?
3. Can you testify to a time when a fellow believer rightfully and lovingly called you to repentance?
4. If so, follow that believer's example and follow through on question 2!
WEEKLY FAMILY ACTIVITY
1 Corinthians 2-6 (June 18-22)
Read 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
* If you have trusted Jesus as your Savior, who lives in you?
* What do these verses say your body is?
* How would you expect someone to take care of a temple?
* What does it mean that you were bought with a high price?
* How do you treat something that is very expensive?
* How can you honor God with your body? (Make a list of at least 10 things.)
Activity: Go outside and use sidewalk chalk to draw a body for each family member. Be sure to include the eyes, ears, mouth, brain, heart, hands, feet, and stomach. Now for each of these parts, discuss ways that you can honor God with them.