Sunday, April 14, 2013

April 14, 2013 … God’s Tough Love

Daily Berry Patch Devotions in 2013 - Day 104

Passage of the Day: 1st Corinthians 5: 5 [NLT] …  
5 Then you must cast this man out of the church and into Satan’s hands, so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved when the Lord returns. 
 Contextual Study of today’s passage: 1st Corinthians, Chapter 5 [NLT] … Go to this link … 

Reference Passage #1: Galatians 6: 1 : [Judging not the heart, … but only the sin.] …[NLT] …  
1 Dear brothers and sisters, if another Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. 

 Reference Passage #2: Matthew 18: 15-17 : [Jesus on dealing with sin in the Church.] …[NLT] …  
15 “If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the fault. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back.  16 But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. 17 If that person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. If the church decides you are right, but the other person won’t accept it, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector. ... "

My Journal for Today: What do you do when you see that you’ve got one rotten apple in within your perfectly good batch of apples? You get rid of the rotten apple, don’t you; because you know that if the rotten fruit is kept in with the good, it will cause the good apples to rot as well? It’s the same principle if you’re coaching a team and the attitude of one player, no matter how good he is as a player, is dragging down the team. You have to exercise tough love and extract the “bad apple” from the team, because his behavior is dragging down the team chemistry.

 Well, the Apostle Paul saw this principle at work in the church at Corinth, having gotten the report that the church was enabling sexual sin in its midst by coddling one of their members who would not repent of the sin of incest. And so, in today’s highlight devotional passage, we read of Paul telling his fellow churchmen to exercise tough love and to extract the “rotten apple” from their midst and let Satan deal with this sinner. It’s radical tough love in action; and unfortunately it’s not being exercised in the church today enough.

Today, all too often, the church has been infected with a pervasive attitude of “tolerance” and “inclusion,” being unwilling to exercise clear discernment [i.e., judgment] of chronic sin in the church. The world cries that we Christians are being too “judgmental” when we see sin in our midst and we desire to take action to address the sin at its core.

Yes, it is true that we, as a Church, are instructed, by the same Apostle Paul (see Gal. 6: 1 quoted above), to first be gentle when we discern someone openly sinning. We, as a church, are to humbly do all we can to confront the sinner and help him/her to be restored in repentance and fellowship with Christ. Even Christ addressed this process in his Matthew 18 teaching on church discipline. However, there comes a time, when it is clear that the person, who calls themselves a “ “christian” continues to wallow in clearly discernable sinful behavior; and that “rotten apple” must be extracted from the basket of fruit (i.e., the church).

And so, Paul – to his beloved fellow church leaders in Corinth – teaches that the Church must exercise tough love in such an instance, turning the offender out of the church body into the world for Satan to deal with the chronic sinner. And that is a course of action that I’m afraid many, if not most, churches these days don’t exercise enough. And the result is that the attitude of “bad apple” church members begins to spoil the whole church; and sometimes it can even bring division to split a church and cause the Holy Spirit to snuff out the lamp of love in that church.

So, as discerning and caring Christians we, as His Church, especially its leaders, must pray that God gives us the clarity of discernment to determine when we see a chronically unrepentant sinner in our midst; and after we’ve done all we can to lovingly confront that “rotten apple,” with the love of God, we then must be willing – if necessary – to pluck that apple from the fruit-basket to protect the remaining maturing fruit from spoiling. It’s God’s tough love in action.

My Prayer for Today … Lord, help us to be Your agents of tough love when it’s necessary to protect Your Church. … Amen

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