Tag Archives: punishment

Church Discipline: Finishing What We Start

Now, regarding the one who started all this—the person in question who caused all this pain—I want you to know that I am not the one injured in this as much as, with a few exceptions, all of you. So I don’t want to come down too hard. What the majority of you agreed to as punishment is punishment enough. Now is the time to forgive this man and help him back on his feet. If all you do is pour on the guilt, you could very well drown him in it. My counsel now is to pour on the love.  The focus of my letter wasn’t on punishing the offender but on getting you to take responsibility for the health of the church.  2 Corinthians 2:5-9 (The Message)

triathlon running race

Moments that Test our Motives

Years ago, I was in a race with several hundred other people.  It was a triathlon. It started on a beach in Corpus Christi, Texas.  After a half-mile swim in a very choppy ocean, we all ran to a transition area. There we quickly put on cycling shoes and rode off on a 25-mile bike ride, about half of which was directly into a stiff and steady 20-mph headwind.  By the time I got off the bike, my legs were jelly and my body was exhausted.

I sat down in the transition area, thinking about the 10K run still ahead of me.  Genuinely torn about what I would do, I could quit now and just lie back and relax or I could strap my running shoes on and stand up and “will” my legs to work again.  It was the very kind of moment most endurance races bring: the moment of decision, whether or not to finish what I started. How we respond to those moments …

Raising Legalists

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them… When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” John 21:20-22

When I work in a church where there has been a moral failure on the part of a leader, especially a pastor, I am always intrigued by the wide variety of responses from the church members.  They range from complete denial (pretending it never happened) to cries for the death penalty, and every imaginable consequence in between.  But the responses that break my heart the most usually come from some of the teenagers.

legalismOddly enough, it is often teenagers who are the most troubled by the moral failure and who are the most demanding that there be severe consequences.  I believe this is true because of the way they have been taught to think.  In many cases, they have been conditioned to believe that, for every good act there must be a visible reward and for every bad act there must be bad consequences.  And when either of those things does not happen, their world is turned inside out, creating chaos and confusion.  So, in an attempt to maintain some degree of “rightness” in their world, they are often the most vocal proponents of severe consequences in the life of the fallen leader.  I can’t blame them for that.  It is what their parents taught them.

You see, when we use behavior modification techniques to get our children to make right choices, this is what we get.  When our motives have more to do with …