If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
—2 Thessalonians 3:14–15
As members of the body of Christ, we have a duty to carry out discipline in the church. In fact, correcting other Christians is a part of the Great Commission. In Matthew 28:19–20, Jesus said the one reason He left us here on earth is to make as many followers of Jesus Christ as we can. When they trust in Christ, they are delivered out of the bondage of sin. But as Christians, we also need to be delivered from the power of sin when we get tangled up in addictions, relationships, and patterns of behavior that are displeasing to God. That is why church discipline is the corollary of evangelism. It is directed to help free Christians from the destructive power of sin.
Imagine you had a lump on your arm, and a biopsy revealed that it was malignant tumor that needed to be removed. But suppose your doctor said, “If I share with my patient that he has a malignant tumor, he may get upset—or worse, he may go to another doctor. And I certainly do not want to go to the next step of operating on him. That would hurt! I think I will keep this information to myself.” That doctor would be accused of malpractice. Doctors are supposed to heal, and although the process is sometimes painful, the ultimate goal is health and restoration.
It is the same way when we correct another Christian in the church—the goal is to ensure the Christian’s spiritual health. Now, church discipline does not always mean dragging somebody up to the front of the sanctuary and voting them out of the church. Sometimes it is one Christian talking to another, sometimes it involves a small group, and sometimes it involves the entire church. But it is always done in love. In 2 Thessalonians 3:14–15, Paul wrote, “If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” Discipline is a sign of our love for somebody, not our hatred for them.
Isn’t that how God deals with us? Hebrews 12:5–6 says, “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor faint when you are reproved by Him; for those whom the LORD loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.” That is what loving parents do: they correct their children; they do not allow misbehavior to go unpunished. In fact, verse 8 says, “If you are without discipline . . . then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” The fact that hard things come into your life when you sin is proof that you are part of God’s family. And one of the channels God uses to bring discipline in your life is through other Christians in the church.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Good-Grace Confrontation” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.
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