For those who may not have been reading, we are in a series on church discipline. A while back when I wrote about this the first time, it was a whole series built around this passage here.
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?
Matthew Chapter 18 covers some great territory on forgiveness and restoration, and much time could be spent there. Maybe someday we can revisit all of that. I happen to think the entire passage revolves around this conversation between Jesus and Peter.
The common thread throughout this passage is fairly simple; it is a thread of love, forgiveness, and restoration. We have talked about dealing with how deep our forgiveness for the brethren should be, dealing with the more tender of our brethren as children, and seeking out those who have strayed and bringing them back. Again, it seems to all revolve around those 490(read infinite) instances of forgiving Jesus instructed Peter about.
Sometimes things just don’t go according to plan. Next in line for discussion is how we handle things when a brother or sister doesn’t quite come back the way we might have intended. What happens when they keep heading the wrong direction?
My blogging friend Don Merritt at The Life Project wrote a great post entitled Dealing With Issues that addresses this very issue. A link to that post would be quite sufficient, as it was a great post! But, because I am a writer, write I shall. I didn’t steal all of Don’s stuff; he just really nailed it really, really well I thought.
Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
The passage above covers what is commonly referred to as “Church Discipline.” If one were to look up a definition of the word discipline, the results might be found to be quite disturbing. At least, I personally hope some of them might be found disturbing. A person would see words such as rules, order, and punishment used. Ugh! Some further reading would reveal a phrase, “training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.” Okay, that seems some better!
Discipline…Disciple. Discipline…disciple. We are to be disciples. Our objective in our Christian walk is to, over time, become disciples of Christ and ultimately more Christ-like. That then is the ultimate objective of what we refer to as “Church Discipline.” We aren’t here to teach our brethren to be rule followers, or to punish them when they don’t follow them! We are to teach them, and disciple them, in becoming more Christ-like. Conversely, when things don’t quite go the way they ought to, we are to help bring them back….to restore them, 490 times if that is what it takes.
Just a couple of questions as we wrap up today and move on:
When our brother sins. Against who? Are we talking about brother to brother offenses or just sin in general?
If the sin or offense is not against us, is it even our business?
Do I have thoughts on these questions? I sure do. Until next time, Peace.