Why exercise church discipline?
Many assemblies are reluctant to do it. There are several reasons, one of which is that people think discipline is fundamentally uncaring. Is that true?
Here are three reasons why Biblical discipline is caring when done right and for the right reasons.
First, it is caring for us because it produces righteousness. As the author of Hebrews reminds us, just as our parents disciplined us out of love, so does God:
For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but he does it for our benefit, so that we can share his holiness. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it (Heb 12:10-11).
Second, it is caring for the offender because discipline aims to restore (Gal 6:1-5). If you don’t discipline, then you can’t regain your erring brother and sister.
Third, it is caring for the church family because discipline protects the community from harm. Paul warned against eating with Christians who are “sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or verbally abusive, a drunkard or a swindler” (1 Cor 5:11). Several of those sins are not things that happen in the privacy of your mind but involve hurting other people—swindling and abusing them. Discipline protects the church, not just from a bad example, but from direct harm.
Church discipline is caring because it produces righteousness, restores brothers and sisters to fellowship, and protects the community from harm. Given these benefits, forgoing discipline is not a matter of caring too much but too little.
Send your questions or comments to Shawn.