Tuesday, August 19, 2008

More Body Responsibilities

When we normally talk about church discipline, we think of Matthew 18 and the steps to be taken when a member of the body has been caught in sin. But church discipline is a much broader topic. In reality, if principles such as the ones Paul presents here in 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 are practiced, there may be fewer occasions to apply the principles of Matthew 18.

Here, Paul outlines six responsibilities that must be shared by every member of the body, not just the church leadership. These principles are part of the responsibility for mutual ministry and encouragement in the body of Christ.

The local church is filled with many different people. Each person is unique. But there are certain categories of people addressed here.

Warn the unruly. Those who are disorderly. Confront them in love. Warn them to get back in line. For their own good. But mostly for the good of the body. They need to be dealt with firmly, but in love.

Comfort – encourage and embolden - the fainthearted. Those in fear and doubt. Those who are discouraged. Gentleness is required. These folks need encouragement. They need to know the confidence found in Jesus Christ.

Uphold – hold up firmly – the weak. Those without spiritual and moral strength. These folks really need the love, care, and attention of the stronger, more mature members of the body. They need to be pointed to Jesus Christ and to the strength that is found in Him.

Have patience with all people. Be willing to work toward reconciliation and restoration. All people, all relationships require patience.

Refuse to render for evil. Refuse to retaliate. Be willing to give up your own rights. We have to defer to others for the good of the body.

Pursue what is good for you and for everyone. It’s not about me. Or about you. It’s about what is good for the body. And, ultimately, what most glorifies our God and Savior.


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