We were discussing when and how to confront a fellow believer, based on Paul's comments in 1 Corinthians 5.
Many were concerned about how to confront when we are not so perfect ourselves. "What about where Jesus said to take the plank out of your own eye first?" asked a woman in the back row.
A former pastor recalled the harshness of confronting a man many years ago, only to see him leave the church angrily and join another body, unrepentant and unreformed.
Another had seen a church split over sexual immorality within its ranks.
The stories were vivid and raw. We all agreed it would be easier to ignore the sin.
But what to do with Paul's words: "Are you not to judge those inside?" (1 Cor 5:12)
Yet Paul's reason for judging those inside the church is clearly detailed a few verses earlier. His purpose for judging was not to maintain the purity of the church or to polish its appearance.
His purpose was simply this: "so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord." (1 Cor 5:5)
Paul was concerned with the man's spirit. He was willing to confront or rebuke sharply if it would save a person presently on a path to destruction.
Some of the best judges have been brand-new believers who care so deeply about their buddies that they share the way of escape with them.
Do I care that deeply? I may choose the safe way to avoid the anger and unrepentant. But I think Paul suggested that our way is not safe but of deep concern for the welfare of others.
Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that
they will be sound in the faith...Titus 1:13