The past few weeks, I have been probed with the question of what to do when someone in your congregation is sinning? What do you tell them and why don’t you cut them off? Just read a FB link that someone sent regarding a “minister” who’s approach is to go into the streets and preach repentance and sin and condemn pastors. After all, they only teach about money when they need something and never tell them about the love of money that is the root of all evil. These are not new questions, but old ones. Satan himself questioned God and thought he had a better way to approach kingdom living. So did Adam, Eve, Cain, and so forth. In every generation there are people who think they know more, there’s a better way, and they conclude that if everyone would just listen and do it according to the Word of God, then we wouldn’t be in this mess. I think we are in this mess simply because of the people who think this way. Better yet, Life is all about the mess, getting in the mess, shoveling the mess out of minds and trying not to get caught up in the mess yourself! Actually, all the mess have some things in common regardless of who it comes out of, the preacher, the priest, or the people:
All mess SMELLS; All mess CYCLES; All mess is REDEEMABLE. (That will preach at another time)
True Pastoring is not cut and dry…it’s messy. It’s a willingness to get into the mess of a persons life and go not only deep, but long. In my opinion, that’s why so many of them never finish their course and ministry. Not only because of the emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental demands but even more the constant judgement and misunderstanding that one receives. The majority of a pastors life involves spending time, praying, crafting, and seeking Gods presence for A Word that will change and transform lives. The moments in prayer are not shallow, wishful request but rather travailing prayers that in some cases feel like those of Christ Himself pleading through you when He found Himself sweating drops of blood so that the will of God may be accomplished. Why do these moments deplete energy? Because we know that only God can change lives, we can’t! Only God can take ink on a paper and translate it into the various languages, demographics, ages, and emotional trauma that people find themselves in. I really wish one day, I could find the time to write to my brothers in the faith that are in the work of the ministry. Only they know the challenges of the spiritual grind that remains a constant whether in the office, on the playground, or in the home in bed alone looking up at the ceiling fan.
Nevertheless, here are the standards. I guess I could go on and explain what the brother of Jesus said: James 2:5-13 (NKJV)
5 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? 7 Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called? 8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
We could reflect on the words of our Master: Matthew 9:12-13
12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
I THINK I WOULD RATHER JUST SHARE THE FOLLOWING. I shared this with our staff this week of our responsibility as ministers of the gospel. There are more verses but these are sufficient.
JAMES 3:1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.
SEEK REPENTANCE NOT MORAL PERFECTION, Challenge and confront people so they can turn away from the very things that will destroy their lives. Compassion, not angry judgment, is the motivation for challenging their behavior.
BE READY: “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction,” (2 Tim. 4:2). (Question: how long, and wid is great patience and instruction?)
WHEN A PASTOR SHOULD CONFRONT SIN:
1. UNREPENTANT SIN
And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 17 “And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer,” (Matt. 18:15-17)
“But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you.” 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 NIV
“Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also may be fearful of sinning,” (1 Tim. 5:20).
2. DIVISIVE BEHAVIOR
“Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him.” Titus 3:10 NIV
Nothing welcomes the work of the Holy Spirit into a church more than unity. That’s why it is so important to protect it. Divisiveness occurs when people are more concerned about winning an argument than building a friendship. We. Have a core value here at Crossroads: RELATIONSHIPS RULE
3. HERESY OR FALSE TEACHING
“As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work – which is by faith.” I Timothy 1:3-4
PROTECT PEOPLE FROM:
- Destructive Hurt
- Divisive Hurt
- Doctrinal Hurt
Our three core values here are the following:
- JESUS, NOT US
- RELATIONSHIPS RULE
- SCRIPTURES ARE SACRED, METHODS ARE NOT.
At Crossroads, we are all about Bringing a REAL GOD to REAL PEOPLE.