One day, years ago, while there was still a need to make lunches for my kids take to school, I was at the grocery store buying snacks for their lunches and another woman saw me put a big box, the biggest box to be found, of fishies (gold fish crackers) in my basket. She proceeded to tell me, unsolicited, that those crackers were the worse thing I could give to my kids. Oh, the many things I could have said to her! What she didn’t know was that I had a picky eater at home and if fishies were one of the five things I could count on my hand that this child would eat, well then, fishies it would be! (if you have a picky eater, it does get better! This child now cooks some excellent meals on hi…their own and will survive, especially as this child gets ready to move out on their own). I thanked this woman for her concern and went about my business. Whether this woman had passed judgement on me or not, I certainly felt like she had and that I had earned the biggest mommy fail moment of the year in that one short shopping trip.
At first glance 1 Corinthians 5:1-2 would seem that Paul is passing judgement, and he is, but not the critical kind of judgement that is negative and depleting of others. In fact, Paul stated that he didn’t even judge himself, it is the Lord who judges him. (1 Corinthians 4:3-4). Rather, Paul is judging the sin of one of the brethren, which caused this man to lose fellowship with God and the sin seeped into the congregation like a thick, dark goo touching and sticking to the rest of the congregation, even though the rest of the congregation wasn’t directly involved in the sin. Like a paint can that is dropped and splatters onto everything around it, the sin of our faith families affects us spiritually, emotionally and mentally and we may not even realize this.
And they were proud! Rather than being deeply saddened by the spiritual state of this man and the influence, subtle as it may have been, on the congregation they boasted about the sin.
It is important to point out that the sin of the man in the verse above was clear and habitual, it was not a judgement based on motives or opinions, the man was not repentant and Paul came from a place of wanting this man to be restored in his relationship with God and with others. It is very important to state that Paul had a relationship with the Corinthians.
So, what does it look like practically for me, for you, for our faith families when a brother or sister has fallen into sin? I believe relationship is key and that is part of the beauty of fellowship with one another, we commit to each other in deep and intimate relationships through Christ and we hold one another accountable; unlike the lady in the grocery store, whom I am certain thought she was doing good by informing me of the disasters of feeding me kids fishies. I also believe it is vital for us to remain, abide, be at home with Jesus on a consistent basis and prayer is the foundation on which we ought to make all decisions. Everything we say and do ought to bathed in prayer before we ever open our mouths and take action. Ask God what your role is. Is He asking you to pray, be His voice piece or a mediator. If you are still unclear seek wise and godly counsel without giving particulars. Ouch! I can recall a few instances lately where I have failed to follow my own encouragement!
As Believers nothing can ever separate us from the love of God but sin does break our fellowship with God (1John 1:6-7) and broken fellowship with God hurts us all.
Precious One, let your walk match your talk.