Tough Love

unitedIn 1 Corinthians 5:11, the Apostle Paul tells us that there is no place for wilful sin among Christians. He clearly states that sexual sin – any sin outside marriage – plus greed, idolatry, slander, drunkenness and swindling, is so unworthy of anyone calling themselves a Christian that they should be shunned by other Christians. Churches must naturally be gracious and loving to those who don’t know better, but there is no grace without repentance to those who spurn God with unholy living. This seems like tough love for God’s family.

The fact is, that the more nominal we become in our practice of Christianity, the less likely we are to know or to abide by Christian standards of living. Despite what many think and what some practise, most Christians have thankfully swung away from judgmentalism. This swing has, though, been so far to the other extreme for many, that permissiveness and tolerance of sin in those no longer supposed to be sinners becomes too easy. It has happened for centuries in traditional churches that will not expel adulterous members or others engaged in deliberate sin and so create a permissive standard of acceptance that blasphemes Christ.

And while it is not our place to impose expectations when we are not Jesus, we also have a responsibility of love to people who are supposed to be brothers and sisters in Christ’s family that I will not allow them to continue in their sin and impair themselves or the family of God. ‘Live and let live’ is a philosophy that has no place in a family where we must care too much for that.

So, it may seem a fine line. Jesus said not to judge (Matthew 7:1), as if to be a self-righteous fault-finder, but he also said to confront sin among fellow believers (Matthew 18:15-20). Here it becomes clear; Paul says we are not even to eat with those who claim to be of faith and do not turn away from lifestyle choices that stand opposed to God’s standards of living. No double standards and no rejection of others in the church holding us accountable (as long as that is in love). “By their fruit you will recognise them” (Matthew 7:16).

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