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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Church Discipline – Getting the beam out

If after we have resolved our own feelings concerning an offense and we find that one of the two conditions warranting discipline exist then the next requisite step is to “cast the beam out of thine own eye”. The beam and the splinter are an analogy Jesus used to illustrate the disparity between the sin of one who commits an offense and one who would rebuke him from a heart filled with pride. The beam in this analogy is nothing less than pride in any manifestation.

One of the most common forms that pride manifests itself in our lives and one that the scripture specifically points to in this circumstance is self-righteousness. When we become self-righteous we are actually denying the righteousness of Christ and have taken our place with the scribes and the Pharisees. We trust in our own understanding and ability and exalt ourselves before God. We quite literally lay to waste the work of Christ on the cross and disregard His righteousness. Can you think of anything that could possibly be more offensive to God than to disregard the sacrifice of His own Son for us?

In order to remove the beam we must first repent of any pride in our heart that might cause us to be indignant and judgmental toward our erring brother. We must first seek forgiveness for our own sinful pride and humble our self before God and our brethren. We can know we’ve removed the beam when we realize that we too are equally susceptible to “the sin that doth so easily beset us”. We can be certain we’re ready to confront our brother when we sympathize with him and can meekly approach him with the understanding that “it could just as easily have been me”. Only then are we fit to carry out the Lords command and make no mistake, it is His command that we do so.

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32 Comments:

Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

Good thoughts, Kc.

BTW, do not expect to be around much; I still have no internet at home.

God Bless

Matthew

4/06/2006 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Matthew we all miss you around here terribly but just knowing you're okay is a huge relief! Thanks again for the encouragement. ;-)

4/06/2006 07:56:00 AM  
Blogger Kristi said...

It's so important that we approach with the attitudes you described. Otherwise, all we do is offend, and cause the person to move farther away from resolving the issue. And we all know "a brother offended is harder to win than a strong city" (or something like that...)

4/06/2006 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger Seeker said...

It looks so easy.... on paper.

4/06/2006 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Kristi you keep leading into the next post. Thanks! ;-)

Karen, simple or easy? Honestly I find that God's way for us is always simple but impossible to accomplish without Him. ;-)

4/06/2006 08:28:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

(hooboy)

I think mine might be considered a contrary view. Elsewhere, I might hesitate to comment, but I take comfort in the fact that I can offer it here, where grace abounds. I will say that I am NOT anchored to this position, and it is not without loose ends, but I have not yet been offered sufficient reason to move from it. However, judging from the tone of your post, I think that, if my thinking can be renegotiated anywhere, it could be here. So here goes:

To my mind, "remove the beam from your own eye," tracks parallel to "Let him who is without sin," the point of which is that there is no one who is fit to judge another. I tend to consider Christ's admonition regarding the beam as similarly ironic, the idea being that the beam is ever present. There is never a time when we are utterly without sin. We may achieve (dangerous word) repentance from one sin, only to be confronted with another that we hadn't noticed before.

I tend to view MY beam as illustrative of David's lament in Psalm 51. "For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me." I do like your statement that the beam is nothing less than pride, but would add that it's often something more, as well.

Your second paragraph is spot-on. I've never heard it put better.

It was really the last paragraph that pulled at me a little. Silly as it sounds, I had not before specifically considered repentance of the root of sin (pride) as part of the process of removing the beam. I consider how Christ (who has no beam to begin with) lowered Himself, and identified with us (became sin), in order to restore us. Likewise, while I remain unconvinced that my beam is entirely removable, putting away my pride is not so much a recognition that I'm "susceptible" to sin, but that I am a greedy participant therein.

I think I can only confront my brother as Christ intended, not with the sympathetic understanding that "it could just as easily have been me," but with the unvarnished, empathetic supposition that, "It IS me."

4/06/2006 08:29:00 AM  
Anonymous timothy said...

Dorsey,
I understand where you are coming from, with the sin that always plagues us, then how can we confront our brothers? We must do so in humility, filled with grace, walking in faith... and we must do so. Paul also echoes Christ's words of Matthew 18, in 1 Corinthinas 5, where he says to expel the immoral brother. Hopefully, we will not find ourselves in a position that has degraded to the point that the Corinthians found themselves. But discipline is a necessity for the purity of the church is at heart. Look in Revelation at how Jesus rebuked the church at Permamos. They were putting up with the sins of the Nicolaitans, and Christ warned them to repent of this behavior. He was calling for discipline.

Also, let me add that discipline starts in the pulpit by preaching God's word. By faithfully preaching of the word, it will either drive out the Nocolaitans, or convert them. Hopefully the latter, but we must realize that Jesus had more turn away than he did follow. Sometimes God uses His word to harden hearts, and not conversion for His own glory.

I really pray for conversions, but I know that some will reject the truth and I have to live with that.

Yet, we must not forsake church discipline. I think it is one reason the church is so weak today, because we have let practical methods over rule biblical methods and there is no purity in the church. In other words, we are more tempted to turn a blind eye to sin than possibly losing a few members.

As Jesus said,
Repent or else I will come to you quyickly and will fight agains them with the sword of My mouth.

I like the idea of repenting over and above Christ coming to fight against us...
Blessings
Timothy

4/06/2006 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

Timothy, don't presume the entirety of my position based on this comment alone. If you go back and read my thoughts throughout this series on Discipline, you'll find it clear that I do not advocate the abdication of biblical correction (although I may question traditional methods/understanding of it). Some of the points you bring up regarding purity were discussed there, also.

My position here is in regard to the inhibitive role that the beam of my own inadequacy and rebellion plays in the question of whether (and the means by which) I am able to correct my brother.

As I said, my position is not without loose ends, not the least of which is its ability to be reconciled to my earlier comments regarding discipline in the Church.

4/06/2006 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Dorsey thanks so much for the kind words and especially for the trust. After reading your thoughts it seems your objection is based the perception that I am advocating judgment and on the fact that we can never be sinless in this life and I agree the scripture bears out that fact. I may be wrong in my perception here and I am equally willing to reconsider.

I previously offered Jayne my understanding on the adulteress and differentiated between judgment and discipline. Under the OT law this woman was to be stoned to death, which is the punishment for sin under the law but Jesus forgave her and disciplined her and admonished her not to continue in sin. If we follow His example then we cannot condemn or judge and we must forgive but we cannot overlook the sin either. With His commandment in Matthew 18 He specifically identifies who is responsible for confronting an offender and Galations 6:1 provides for those responsible for seeing to general offences to the Church.

Were it not for Matthew 18 I would likely hold your view concerning the beam analogy but in light of that chapter I see the beam analogy intended to be specific to the occasion rather than for overall comparison. In verse 15 Jesus said to point out the fault of the brother however as previously noted this is not for the purpose of judgment but for reconciliation both to God and to each other. Still some “judgment” or discernment must be made. This necessitates the ability to “see clearly” and this is where I draw in the beam analogy since both pertain to finding fault in our brethren. If I do allow that the beam analogy isn’t relevant to this command I still believe the necessity for being spiritual dictates a similar effort.

The reason I say sympathy as opposed to empathy is also specific to the occasion. As I stated to Zeke in my letter I cannot be empathetic to homosexuality because I’m not inclined that way at all but I can be sympathetic to the general sin of deviant desire (and for the record by deviant I mean anything outside of God’s intent). There are likely situations where I would be empathetic to the specific offense.

What say ye? ;-)

Pastor thanks so much for your thoughts and I'm sure we all will be edified by any discussion between you and the Dorsemiester. ;-)

4/06/2006 10:01:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Oh and Pastor, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! ;-)

4/06/2006 10:08:00 AM  
Anonymous timothy said...

KC,
Thank you. It is a wonderful Day. The Lord has blessed me with 45 years, of which, I am eternally grateful.

Dorsey,
Yes, I see your point and sorry I missed your earlier discussion. I do believe that discipline must be of one sinner coming along aside another sinner. Hopefully for mutual edification. But when repentence is refused, then steps must be taken with the unrepentent party. After all, there is only one sin that anyone should ever be excommunicated for... and that is unrepentence. I hope I never have to go through that, on either end... because it is heart wrenching.


As for never judging, I think James mentions that... should we not be able to judge instead of taking it to the legal system... or is that Paul. But judging wihtout having a judgmental attitude... now there is an act of the Holy Spirit.
Blessings
Timothy

4/06/2006 10:36:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

Let me also congratulate you for being older than I am, brother Timothy (only by a couple years) hehe.

I failed to mention that I had also never considered this passage in the light of "official" Church Discipline, but more as it applies to interpersonal relationships (and yes, I'm aware that I have previously asserted that personal accountable relationships are the primary vehicle of behavior modification in the church. Another loose end...)

I concede that my position has a certain edge of defensiveness that I cannot quite explain, and also that the underlying attitude of "who am I to judge?" smacks of a sort of backhanded self-righteousness that I don't intend, but may be perceived nonetheless.

Still considering...

4/06/2006 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

(more evidence of why I'm a newly converted Dorsiest hehe)

4/06/2006 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger dorsey said...

Point #1 of Dorseism is:

"Follow me as I follow Christ, but you'll likely get there sooner on your own."

4/06/2006 11:44:00 AM  
Anonymous timothy said...

Dorsey,
Like that Point number 1. No, I don't think the attitude of, "who am I to judge," is self righteous in any way, but an honest assessment of who we are, fallen sinners, yet called to be obedient to the mandates of the Gospel/ Christ. He still calls us to judge even though we know we are completely unqualified in doing so, when we assess our own spiritual conditions. This, of course, requires us to follow Him and carry out His mandates by faith. Interesting little phrase, but so necessary to our calling. When we know that we are personally unqualified and must rely on His word, guiding and the Holy Spirit, then we are qualified.

It was like Peter in the boat when he realized he was a sinful man before this holy teacher and he cries out, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man." Yup. And at that point, he became qualified... and remained so until "pride" arose in his heart and Jesus was saying, "Get behind Me Satan." We oscillate between the qualified and unqualified with a thought... requiring us to depend upon Him all the more, and walking by faith all the more.

KC and Corey,
Thanks for the e-birthday card. That was a pleasant surprise.
Blessings...

BTW, My wife bought me two pallets of sod for our back yard. Not sure if that is a gift or a curse. :)
Timothy

4/06/2006 02:57:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Pastor you're most welcome and I admire sis. Beth's choice. That's one gift that will keep on giving year after year. ;-)

BTW I've still got your slot reserved in my links section for when you decide to start up again. ;-)

4/06/2006 03:43:00 PM  
Blogger Mrs Zeke said...

I guess what I am wondering is why can't the beam/plank be just what it is or at least how I see it a reminder of who we are without Christ so we offer the same love, mercy and acceptance to our fellow human beings that was offered to us.

Often I have heard a parent say who drinks (regardless of how much ) or smokes "I can't tell my kids not to drink or smoke cause ill be a hypocrite". The problem is we are all hypocrites and without the justifying act of the Cross before God that is how we would be left. Maybe without the beam that only Christ can remove we would be such a snotty lot no one could stand us. Saved but on the road to sanctification does not mean without sin I so wish it did and being human is downright ugly sometimes. But again I still say if that plank in my eye prevents me one moment of pride then I hope for a plank in both eyes even if it meant the loss of sight. I don't know KC I would be afraid of me without the plank.

Am I missing the point?

Go love its all you got

4/06/2006 08:07:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Mrs. Zeke thanks so much for participating. As I told Dorsey I would probably lean toward the understnading that Christ instruction in Matthew 7 was given in a sarcastic tone but when taken with His commandment in Ch. 18 concerning the same subject I see a common theme in both. While requiring meekness He still commands that we discipline the erring brother. I don't think we're really fit to do anything God requires of us but He furnishes us for the task as needed.

As I told Dorsey I would be willing to disallow the beam analogy for the purpose of discussion but we're still left with the Ch. 18 commandment. I don't see a scriptural way of avoiding His command but I'm always willing to be shown. ;-)

4/06/2006 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger Mrs Zeke said...

Help me KC I think I am confused I might have to go to Dorsey's site and figure it out :)

Anyway I guess I am looping this into my mind the wrong way.
If I can not be made perfect until I am in Heaven then will I not always have "specks" if you will in my eye or eyes. Could Matthew 7 really be talking about specific sin? guilty of the same you are pointing out?

In ch 15 my worry is this since man is so often run by his her own will then who is to determine who is to be treated as a tax collector or pagan? I am not talking about clear wrong stuff that most believers and un believers think is wrong I am talking about things like me being a women and some would say I should never wear pants. Trust me doing any kind of outside work in a skirt is much more a risk of not being modest then pants :) In some places I would not be welcome.

I have had to with a heavy heart approach a brother or sister in the manner the Bible lays out but it is not an easy task nor any joy in it unless of course there is a great happy ending. I think I worry to much about self elevation so these things scare me because I say "who am I to say anything to anyone else" which I can say might be wrong but it is the truth.

Good grief I think I just confused my self more sorry :P Its all Dorsey's fault

Your loved

4/06/2006 09:20:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

Mrs. Zeke's initial comment pretty accurately describes a large portion of my struggle with this passage. I know all too well what a self-righteous ass I'm capable of becoming. Perhaps that partly accounts for the defensive edge I referenced earlier.

Kc, I appreciate your willingness to forego the beam analogy, but it's that particular passage that's the source of my consternation, so I'd prefer to deal with it, if that's ok. Then tomorrow, we'll settle all the eschatological debates and have this whole Christianity thing licked in time for Sunday. hehe.

I guess part of my continuing difficulty is in the first verse of Matthew 7: "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." The absence of a qualifier is frustrating and lends support to the idea of Christ's use of irony (not sarcasm—there's a difference, albeit insignificant here). But then there's verse 2: "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Perhaps this is the qualifier, suggesting that there is a point at which we can help our brother with his speck. "The measure you use" is a lot easier to swallow in light of the abject, almost debased degree of humility with which you suggest we approach the brother.

Matthew 18, I believe, is talking about the brother who sins "against you," so I don't think it's quite as applicable here. However, there is then Galatians 6:

"Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load."

The real danger in making judgements is that of comparing ourselves to one another, or more accurately, the possibility that our brother might perceive such. "If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing..." This rings of your original post. I think the truth of the matter is near to this statement.

4/06/2006 11:14:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Mrs. Zeke, Dorsey, I really appreciate this dialog. This is what I call Bible study.

Mrs. Zeke by specific I mean the intended application of the concept that Jesus related is for personal application in our own relationships. I say this because of the adjective “your” (brother) as opposed to the more general use of “a” (brother) found in Galatians 6. I agree that the beam analogy itself is demonstrating the relative degree of sin between any one believer and another.

I hope you’ll be patient with me concerning the general offences. I’m going to post on that after my next article. I’d like to hold our discussion of that topic until then if you allow.

I sympathize with the difficulty in having to approach someone under these circumstances. My next post is set to address that particular task and I think your input might prove very helpful given your experience.

Dorsey I think I more clearly understand you’re interpretation of Matthew 7. If so then it would give weight to the thought that we should never consider the faults of others and is therefore pertinent to this topic. Is this correct? (I’ll readily accept what Dorceism teaches concerning the end times stuff hehe)

I understand the difficulty here. Vs. 1 is a clear warning against judging. It clearly says in order to avoid judgment don’t judge. Vs. 2 reinforces the warning in saying whatever method we use for judgment we will be judged in the same way. Taken alone these two verses could be applied in a number of ways. For some reason they were omitted in Luke but in Matthew they are tied to Vs. 3 by a conjunction. We know they’re to be interpreted inside the context of the next verse so we continue. In verse 3 Jesus seems to say it’s incredible that we think we are able to clearly see the fault of another while being so full of sin our self but He also brings judgment down to practical application. His thinking shifts from judgment in general to the specific application of judgment in our interpersonal relationships. Vs. 4 reiterates the thought. Vs. 5 is the culmination of all these thoughts and our interpretation of this verse will determine our application of Vs. 1 and 2.

If the beam analogy is sarcasm then the instruction in Vs. 5 can be taken as ridicule and the conclusion to the teaching is simply “do not judge” at all, ever. If the analogy is only irony intended to illustrate a “leap before you look” mentality then the instruction is not ridicule but the teaching of the proper application of judgment in the life of a believer. We might then conclude that (Vs 1 and 2) generally we are not to judge others and (Vs.3 and 4) we are even unable to make proper judgments in our own personal relationships until (Vs. 5) we have restored our own relationship with God, that is until we have repented of our own present sin. Only then can we see clearly to help an erring brother.

I know comparison seems like judgment but even the golden rule requires us to make extreme comparisons. I suppose it comes down to the intent of the heart but I’m still open to a better understanding and sincerely appreciate the study.

4/07/2006 06:53:00 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

For me, this is the most difficult part of my ministry. I am far too blunt to be either gracious or careful, and there IS the element of pride that gets in my way.

That was a great post!

4/07/2006 08:22:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Joe, thanks and I empathize. Even being right all the time (as of course we are hehe) it is still too easy to speak the truth without love and just sound like that tinkling brass. ;-)

4/07/2006 08:40:00 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

Kc, great topic. A much needed area in the Church and yet much wisdom and discernement is also required.

In Christ,
Jim

4/07/2006 09:27:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Jim thanks for your thoughts. This really is a tough one. ;-)

4/07/2006 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Mrs Zeke said...

Kc I am so trying to find the general offences I need to be patient with.
If anyone needs to be patient its you all with me. I honestly do my best to try to get where everyone is coming from but boy do I miss the mark at times. So no worries I am far from thin skinned and I don't care much about our collective differences unless of course they are soul destructive. I care allot about what we have in common though.

So be patient with me I'm slow but I'll get there someday :)

Love is a good thing!

4/07/2006 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Mrs. Zeke thanks for your kindness. By general offences I mean the issues that the Church is responsible for outside of those that relate to personal relationships. Things like a violation of a code of conduct or dress codes are usually considered general offences. I suspect you and I will be in full agreement on the responsibility of the Church concerning those matters. ;-)

4/07/2006 05:03:00 PM  
Blogger Rose~ said...

Great post and comments, KC.
What is Dorseyism? Is this a cult? ;~)
I have always thought about the beam being a pride issue, but what Dorsey said was kinda interesting - about the idea that it might be irony. I must re-read that passage.

God bless you brother and have a good weekend!

4/07/2006 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

NO! DON'T DO THAT, ROSE! DON'T RE-READ IT!

In case I'm wrong and you fall into error because of my suggestion...my millstone is in the shop for repairs.

FYI, Dorseism is a user friendly alternative for those who find the whole TULIP thing untenable or for those who simply dislike the French (of which Calvin was one, of the worst kind). I didn't start Dorseism, someone else started calling it that and the name just sort of stuck.

Instead of 5 really boring points of doctrine, Dorseism has 37 very fun points, 9 of which involve beer. If 37 points sounds onerous, don't worry, because they're on a fairly loose rotation, requiring that you only adhere to three points at any given time.

Don't worry, we totally love Jesus (you kidding? I'm definitely following a Savior who parties with drunks, theives and prostitutes!). And even if you're elected, self-righteousness and judgementalism can get you "impeached," if you know what I mean. I'm still working on an acronym, but with that many points, it certainly won't be a single word. More likely a sentence, or a short paragraph.

More on Dorseism as I make it up.

4/07/2006 11:14:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Thanks Rose and you too sis!

My conversion to Doseism was brought on by a deep social need. My brother Adam has been pressing me to embrace a label for my theology. I wanted to be hip like the kewl kids but hypocrisy is something I try to avoid so Scientology was out of the question. After much consideration one day and having had all my concerns resolved personally by the Dorcemeister I decided to commit myself. Fortunately Corry intervened and I went with Dorceism instead. Can I get an *AHEM* ? (hehe)

4/08/2006 07:25:00 AM  
Blogger Gordon Cloud said...

Sorry to dive in late, KC. I think this is a pretty strong post. It deals with the idea of "restoring such a one in a spirit of meekness, considering thyself lest thou also be tempted".

I think the lack of church discipline today is probably an over-reaction to the extremes of those who failed to apply the principle you discussed in years gone by.

God bless.

4/08/2006 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Gordon you thoughts are always welcome late or not. I agree completely. The whole purpose of discipline was altered over time from being restorative for maintining fellowship to punitive for maintaining control.

4/08/2006 03:25:00 PM  

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