From The Heart

Publish date: 12/10/2006

And I wrote the same to you so that when I came, I might not be myself pained by those who are the [very] ones who ought to make me glad, for I trusted in you all and felt confident that my joy would be shared by all of you. 4 For I wrote you out of great sorrow and deep distress [with mental torture and anxiety] of heart, [yes, and] with many tears, not to cause you pain but in order to make you realize the overflowing love that I continue increasingly to have for you. 5 But if someone [the one among you who committed incest] has caused [all this] grief and pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure, not to put it too severely, [he has distressed] all of you. 6 For such a one this censure by the majority [which he has received is] sufficient [punishment]. 7 So [instead of further rebuke, now] you should rather turn and [graciously] forgive and comfort and encourage [him], to keep him from being overwhelmed by excessive sorrow and despair. 8 I therefore beg you to reinstate him in your affections and assure you, to test your attitude and see if you would stand the test, whether you are obedient and altogether agreeable [to following my orders] in everything. 10 If you forgive anyone anything, I too forgive that one; and what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sakes in the presence [and with the approval] of Christ (the Messiah), 11 To keep Satan from getting the advantage over us; for we are not ignorant of his wiles and intentions. 2 Corinthians 2:3-11 AMP

When we started The River at Tampa Bay, we asked the Lord how we should handle situations where people had sinned and needed discipline and correction. He told us this, "If I have forgiven them – you forgive them." So that is what we do. We bring the word to them in a non-judgmental way. If they are repentant and ask God to forgive them, then forgive them as well and work with them on restoration. If they will not repent, we work with them and speak the truth in love to them until they do. After all that, if they will still not repent, we recommend they find another church to attend, since they do not respect the authority in this house. It is very important that we do not continue to have fellowship with those who are stubbornly rebellious against God's word and who sow strife amongst the brethren, because it has a corrupting influence on the Body of Christ.

On the other hand, we do have a problem in the Body of Christ when someone has repented and yet they find no grace or forgiveness from their brethren. This ought not to be so. We must do two things for each other – speak the truth in love and, at the same time, show mercy and grace toward each other. In this way we will all grow up spiritually. We should not expect perfection from ourselves and others, but we should expect righteousness! Paul tells us that we must forgive so that we keep Satan from getting the advantage over us. We must not be ignorant of his wiles and intentions. The devil uses strife to divide us and destroy us – individually and as a body.

Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also.  Galatians 6:1 AMP

It is very important not to judge someone else, because if you do, you give the devil place in your life and you open yourself up to be tempted with the same sin. Do not judge them in your heart, even if it doesn't come out of your mouth.  Discipline in the Church – the Body of Christ - should come from those who are spiritual. Sadly, there are not enough spiritual people in the Church who are qualified to deal with these kinds of situations. A spiritual person is one who is submitted to the word of God in all things. They walk in love toward others; they correct them, but they do not judge them. An immature Christian is one who is judgmental toward others and who is envious of others. They are happy when someone else messes up – it gives them an opportunity to feel superior – but they are playing into the devil's hands. We are all on the same team – let's act like it!

Rejoice not when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles or is overthrown, 18 Lest the Lord see it and it be evil in His eyes and displease Him, and He turn away His wrath from him [to expend it upon you, the worse offender].  Proverbs 24:17-18 AMP

If we shouldn't be happy when our enemy falls, how much more should we definitely not be glad when our fellow Christian falls? We should weep for them, pray for them and help them back to their feet. God needs every one of us that He can get! He does not need anyone of us to fall and fail and if we are all going to make it and stand strong then we are going to need each other. We are a Body! What happens to the individual, affects the whole Body. Let us not be ignorant; let us not be used by the devil to work his purposes, but let us be submitted to God in this and let us be used by Him to bring peace, restoration and harmony wherever WE go!