Reclaiming Fellow Christians

Reclaiming Fellow Christians

If anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness.
—Galatians 6:1

What is the purpose of church discipline? One purpose is to reclaim a Christian who has been overtaken by sin. In Luke 10, Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan: A Jewish man was walking, and a group of thieves beat him, robbed him, and left him for dead. There he was bleeding in the street when a priest walked by. The priest said, “Isn’t that a shame?” and on he went. Then an assistant priest walked by and, again, did not stop. But the third man who walked by was a Samaritan. The Samaritans and the Jews hated each other. But this outsider was the one who stopped and rendered aid, took the Jewish man to an inn, and paid for his healing. Jesus was saying, “Your neighbor is anyone who is in need. Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Now, what does that have to do with church discipline? Every day, we see Christians who have been assaulted and beaten up by sin in this world. If you see a Christian who is under assault from sin, what are you supposed to do? Do you say, “That is his relationship with God; I cannot get involved”? No, to walk by a Christian who is the victim of sin is to show contempt toward that Christian. It is our duty to stop and help whenever we can.

The evangelist Charles Finney once said, “If you see your neighbor sin, and you pass by and neglect to reprove him, it is just as cruel as if you should see his house on fire, and pass by and not warn him of it.”

One reason people resist the idea of church discipline is they do not want to get involved. It may be messy, and they do not want to be involved in the condemnation of another sinner. But the purpose of church discipline is not condemnation but restoration. In Galatians 6:1–2, Paul wrote, “If anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” That word for “restore” in Greek is kartartizo. It refers to the mending of a fishing net that has torn or the setting of a bone that has been broken. Either way, the idea is the same: to restore is to repair something that has been broken. When we see a Christian who has been broken by sin, in a spirit of gentleness we are to help restore them. That is one purpose of church discipline.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Good-Grace Confrontation” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2020.

Charles G. Finney, “Reproof, a Christian Duty,” in Lectures to Professing Christians (New York: John S. Taylor, 1837), 45.

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