Grace place—that is why some churches say they abstain from church discipline—they want to be a place of grace. Imagine that you have cancer and pleading with doctor after doctor to remove it to hear, “We don’t do scalpels here. They hurt. They’re not loving.” The last description you would give of such a doctor is gracious.
Church discipline is about love. When discipline is absent we wave with a smile to our brothers as they tread the path to hell. Abstaining from discipline for fear of offending your brother is like not yelling at your kids when they are playing in the street, because yelling might scar their little souls. Cars kill bodies. Sin kills the soul. Better to offend someone into heaven than nice them into hell. Church discipline loves—everyone. It loves:
- The sinner, by seeking their repentance and restoration.
- The church, by seeking her purity and protection from the leaven of sin (1 Corinthians 5:6-13).
- The world, by seeking to guard the church’s testimony and witness to the transforming gospel of Christ.
- God, as we act in obedience and for His glory.
When leaders and churches ignore church discipline, they are loving. They are loving themselves. They are concerned for their jobs, their reputation, their number, their offerings. A failure to do discipline reveals idols.
Jesus spoke the words in Matthew 18. Jesus commanded discipline to be done. And Jesus promises He is with us when we obey this command (Matthew 18:20). This is the ultimate reason to faithfully do church discipline. Because to do so is to stand with Jesus. And no one loves like Jesus.
“By abstaining from church discipline… we claim we love better than God loves.” —Jonathan Leeman