What do you do if

Friday, October 24, 2003

What happens when someone who is considered a part of your community of faith is having difficulty?

If they are going through a health crisis, you gather around them, support them. If they have more month than money, you help them out. You do what family does to help. But what do you do if their behavior is suffering?

I mean what if they are becoming more embittered, or angry, or hostile. What if these cycles rule their lives, what do you do then?

I read in Galatians 5

So I advise you to live according to your new life in the Holy Spirit. Then you won't be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The old sinful nature loves to do evil, which is just opposite from what the Holy Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite from what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, and your choices are never free from this conflict. 18 But when you are directed by the Holy Spirit, you are no longer subject to the law.

19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, 20 idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

22 But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law.

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 If we are living now by the Holy Spirit, let us follow the Holy Spirit's leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or irritate one another, or be jealous of one another.

Some people, for various reasons, end up living by their sinful nature more than by the Spirit's leading. When they do that, more often than not, we leave them to it.

Because we are afraid of conflict, we let them be. We say things like "I don't want anything to do with them, they deserve what they get." kinds of things. But I don't like that thinking. True caring community would reach out in love to that person, and attempt to help them into a healthy place in life, even at the risk of having their heads chewed off and spit out.

While I am concerned about someone who is living in their "Sinful nature," I am equally worried about a community that would let a person remain in that place, and not attempt to help them. I understand the fear involved, and that the persons needing help would probably reject it outright, but do we just let them be, leave them to their own devices?

I am in touch with a few churches with this kind of situation. These are the things that keep me up at night as i wrestle them through.

What are our options? Any suggestions?



  1. Randall:

    I've found the book "Healing the Wounded" by John White and Ken Blue a helpful resource on the topic of church discipline, which is I think what you're talking about. John and Ken propose that the main motivation for disciplining those who sin is to restore them to fellowship with God and others, not to keep the church "spotless and clean" as some older denominations sometimes assert.

  2. Thanks Mitch, I'll look it up

  3. My take on this is that we need to talk with them, get close, build bridges and share the love of Jesus. People in this state don't respond well to logic or instruction, but they can receive advice from those they value and esteem. It's often uncomfy getting in close, but also generally worth it.

    Of course if you're the 'pastor' and one of 'the flock' is stirring trouble then sometimes you have to drive a tank across a bridge only built for a small car. That's when you really need to hear God for the situation.


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