If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
—1 Corinthians 12:26–27
Did you know that Americans have a new favorite verse of the Bible? It used to be John 3:16, but we have replaced that with Luke 6:37: “Do not judge.” I am joking, but that is the spirt of our age—there is no standard of behavior, and if there were, we certainly do not have the right to hold people accountable to it.
As Christians, we have that attitude when it comes to church discipline. There are numerous passages in the New Testament that remind us of our responsibility to identify and correct sinning church members. So why are we hesitant to confront other Christians who are caught up in immorality, addiction, or harmful relationships?
One reason is the consumer mentality many churches have fallen into. My late professor Haddon Robinson said, “Too often now when people join a church, they do so as consumers. If they like the product, they stay. If they do not, they leave. They can no more imagine a church disciplining them than they could a store that sells goods disciplining them.” The unspoken fear of church leaders is if we take church discipline seriously, it is going to drive people away.
Other people are reluctant to exercise church discipline because of bad experiences they have had or witnessed in the past. But the fundamental reason I think we do not apply these passages today is we have what I call a club mentality. We think when we join a church, we are joining a club—a group of people who have similar interests, but everybody remains pretty anonymous. But when we join the church, we are not part of a club; we are part of a body. If your liver becomes diseased, every other organ in your body does whatever it can to help heal the liver. Why? Because as goes the liver, so goes the whole body. Paul said it this way in 1 Corinthians 12:26–27: “If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”
Bad grace teaches that we have no right to judge the behavior of other church members. But a true understanding of grace recognizes that we not only have the right but the responsibility to correct sinning Christians in an effort to lead them back to a right relationship with God.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Good-Grace Confrontation” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.
Haddon Robinson, as quoted in “Church Discipline: A Remedy for What Ails the Body,” Christianity Today, May 8, 1981, https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/1981/may-8/church-discipline-remedy-for-what-ails-body.html.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org