Wednesday, December 08, 2004

1 Corinthians 5

Wow – at first all I can think of is the harshness of Paul’s words. In addressing the congregation about sexual immorality, he argues for the sexually immoral man to be expelled. To be exact, he states in verses 4-5

“When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.”

Wow – “hand this man over to Satan”? Seems a little extreme doesn’t it? And what about not judging others? I’d say this definitely qualifies as an act of judgement.

While this passage focuses on a sexually immoral brother, I believe the lessons are applicable to many other sins.

After my initial shock I found this passage rather refreshing. I really see this passage to be about accountability. How often do we honestly hold one another accountable? Too often, I think our responses to someone who stumbles is, ‘don’t worry, it’ll be okay…I know you didn’t mean to do it…I know you’re sorry about it…I’ll be praying for you…I know how hard of a temptation is must be for you…”

I know these words because they’ve often been my own! Despite his harsh words Paul’s love for the congregation is evident in verse 5 “..hand this man over to Satan so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.”

Recently, my cousin stated that one of the reasons she is so fond of her home church is because of their commitment to accountability. Members of this church actually confront one another! They don’t just talk about the problem, ignore the problem or rationalize the problem – the confront it!

Done through love, this ability to keep one another accountable can be such a strong building block for the body of Christ. To truly exercise accountability requires humility, honesty and love - three things that I think many struggle with.

Until I read the end of the chapter I still had the nagging question of judgement in my mind. Who am I to judge when I have done the same thing before and know how hard it is? Verses 12 and 13 make this very clear. “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

I see our judgement within the body of Christ, when done correctly, as an act of love. Too often, we are afraid to take a hard stand and be upfront. Too often we worry about how feelings will be hurt more than a person’s relationship with Christ.

Perhaps it’s time to risk these temporary feelings of pride for a closer relationship with Christ.

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