“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.” Matthew 18: 15-16
Discipline is a method to correct in order for one who is acting in a incorrect manner or rearing someone away from dangerous actions or ways. It is often something we do not look forward to. In the grand scheme or big picture, discipline when done in its proper manner and with the right intent can lead to a beautiful restoration. This is the case with church discipline, and yet, this church ordinance passed down from our Lord and Savior is a mandate many do not heed to.
What is church discipline, and what it is supposed to accomplish? It is the authority the church has given to them to correct and restore. Jesus lays out the instructions in Matthew 18:15–20, giving all believers a blueprint of how it is supposed to be done. It isn’t out of spite nor it isn’t out of a pharisee-type attitude. It is is the restoration of the individual to full fellowship with both God and other believers. It is not to be done in public at first, but if progressed, it gradually becomes more public. Discipline is to be acted out for the sake of restoring the individual in sin, love for the church, and obedience and godly fear towards God. This is the responsibility of the church and its leadership, to judge rightly inside of the church (1 Corinthians 5).
Why is this biblical mandate forsaken by so many churches when it is clearly given by Christ with a motive to restore, and even, to expose both the unbeliever and believer to repentance? Perhaps the same reason a young parent does not discipline their wayward tot. The fear of man is a dangerous vice. We don’t want to discipline others, or even be displaced ourselves, because it doesn’t feel good. But Christ calls His bride to be pure and set part in holiness. It is our job to call out sin in love and to keep our brothers and sisters from heading toward destruction. Of course discipline in the church, while it can be neither easy or enjoyable, is necessary at times, and it is a loving command from God for His people.
God, discipline in any fashion isn’t easy, especially with this sinful nature tugging at us at all times. Please help us as Your bride to act out this command to reprove one another in love for You first and each other next. We are Your people. Help us give honor to Your name. In Christ’s name we ask, Amen.
Are you involved in a church that practices discipline?