It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you. . . a man has his father’s wife. . . deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 5:1-5)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Paul had some difficult things to say to the church in Corinth. They were tolerating sexual immorality in their midst. A man had even taken his father’s wife to be his own. Apparently, none of their pastors or leaders were willing to exercise church discipline and in failing to do so, they had failed to truly love this man.
Now, that might sound strange to you. Most people think of love as a feeling. We feel loved when those around us do and say things that make us feel good, and we often conclude that it would be unloving to ever say anything that might make a loved one feel bad. Even though the Bible speaks of reproof, rebuke, and correction, according to God’s Word, as loving acts (2 Timothy 3:16; 4:2), we find ourselves hesitant to do such truly loving works, for fear of being “unloving.”
“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:11-12). Just as a father disciplines his children out of love, Paul was loving this man and the Corinthian congregation when he boldly rebuked them. And even though he instructs them to take the extreme measure of delivering the man to Satan (excommunication), his ultimate desire is that this act of church discipline would finally bring him to repentance “so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.”
Being called to repentance is not a pleasant experience, but it is necessary. Holding on to our sins in unrepentance is to despise Christ and His sacrifice for sinners. Those who gently, or when necessary, firmly, call us to repentance, are people who truly love us. They care more about our salvation than they do about our approval. Let us thank God for them, heed their loving rebuke, repent, and return to Christ our Savior who has delivered us from our sins and freed us to walk in newness of life. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Breathe, O Breathe Thy loving Spirit Into every troubled breast; Let us all in Thee inherit; Let us find Thy promised rest. Take away the love of sinning; Alpha and Omega be; End of faith, as its beginning, Set our hearts at liberty. (Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” LSB 700, st.2)
-Rev. Jeffrey Ware is pastor of All Saints Lutheran Church in Charlotte, NC.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Christians need to aspire to being people of THE faith. Not just any will do. In Faith Misused, Dr. Alvin Schmidt shares his case for a Christian reclaiming of the word “faith” from its ambiguous modern uses. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.