Discover His heart: Out of love, He disciplines His children
The other day I saw a mother duck with four little ducklings preparing to cross the road. I think the word adorable comes closest to describing the scene. She gathered them in, and as if giving instructions, she nodded and quacked. I am almost sure that she pointed to the road, but I’m not sure. She lined them up behind her, and off they waddled, stopping traffic until they had safely crossed the road. Simply adorable!
It’s the nature of most of God’s creation to protect and defend our young. While my children did not always consider my actions to be adorable, nonetheless, I did my best to keep them from harm, and I disciplined them when necessary. I made careful observation of their friends, and when I found those who were not a good influence, they were no longer a part of my children’s lives. That’s the role of a loving overseer whether it brings popularity or not. Paul found himself in this role as he addressed the Corinthian church – lining up those ducks.
@ I Corinthians 5
“I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you – something that even pagans don’t do. I am told that a man in your church is living in sin with his stepmother. You are so proud of yourselves, but you should be mourning in sorrow and shame. And you should remove this man from your fellowship.” (1-2) Help! This isn’t the happy, good news or comfort that I like to share, but then what kind of a mother duck would I be if I didn’t share it? Rhetorical question – no response required.
Paul went on to say that he wasn’t addressing unbelievers, where we make every attempt to lovingly teach and direct towards holy living. He was referring to believers who knew how they should live, yet disregarded it to satisfy their own desires. “It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, ‘You must remove the evil person from among you.’” (12)
It’s easy to get a bee in our bonnet, so to speak, about what someone within the church says or does that isn’t to our liking. Paul is not talking about this. Throughout his writings, he encourages us to be patient, loving and kind to one another (I Corinthians 13). Nor is he talking about judging the motivation behind what other believers do for these things will be aptly judged by Jesus Himself. (I Corinthians 3:3) Paul is talking about sin in the life of a believer within the church, plain and simple. Rather than being enablers of sin by ignoring it, our right response when done in a spirit of love just may save the eternal life of one who is living a sinful life. (James 4:19-20)
No one wants to talk about church discipline. It’s not friendly, warm or cuddly. Jesus, however, felt it important and started the discussion in Matthew 18, providing the first steps to keeping the body of Christ protected. (See February 18 @ Matthew 17-19). After the establishment of the church, Paul continued with these instructions in Chapter 5. Not wanting to leave the matter in a hopeless condition for this man who had sinned, Paul followed up in 2 Corinthians 2:5-8, “Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise, he may be overcome by discouragement. So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him.” This is always our goal because it is the heart of the Father – repentance, and restoration.
Had the mother duck not loved and cared for her ducklings, she would have allowed them to wander off as they wished; and in the heavy traffic of life, they would have been lost forever. “For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” (Hebrews 12:6) So, don’t feel only disciplined by these words today by Paul, but know that we are loved by the Lord as His children. The thought of it is far beyond adorable.
Moving Forward: My goal is to do nothing that requires His discipline, but I’m so thankful He loves me enough to do so if needed. Doing my best today to keep those ducks in a row…
Tomorrow @ Genesis 40-43