Sunday, August 18, 2013

After Discipline

There were problems in the church at Corinth. Since Paul could not make a trip, he sent a letter. Can you imagine how he waited for word back? Don’t we all worry when we put something down in black and white? He started with the contentions in the church. By chapter 5 he was down to specific people, specific sins and specific actions:

But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. (1 Corinthians 5:11 KJV)

Those were Christians he was writing about, not the unsaved. These Christians were the hypocrites that are found in churches today, ones who committed their lives to following in Jesus’ footsteps – and failed miserably. I wonder how long Paul waited to hear how his letter was received. He was concerned how the letter would be received, but it was a necessary part of loving discipline. His heart broke over the need to apply discipline.

For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you. (2 Corinthians 2:4 KJV)

Apparently, the church – and the individuals – took it to heart and changed their actions. Then comes the hard part. Forgive. Restore. After discipline, it is absolutely necessary to forgive and restore:

Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. (2 Corinthians 2:6-7 KJV)

Isn’t that how we see our own sins when handed to Christ? We repent, are forgiven, comforted and restored. If not, our sorrow could destroy us. So would the lack of forgiveness and comfort when we hold on to the hurt of a brethren’s sinfulness. It is up to us to love the repentant with the same love Christ offers us.

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:35 KJV)

We are not to be known by how well we discipline another of God’s children unless it is done with love and comfort.

Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. (James 5:19-20 KJV)

We have erred - all of us. May we learn from being disciplined and be comforted by our brethren’s love.

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