Originally scheduled for August 13
Years have gone by, but the old man remembers
it like it was yesterday. He was a young soldier who attended a
nearby church. One day the pastor of that church encountered him and
in the course of conversation mentioned that one of the elders in
the church —by name — was having incest with his daughters.
Surprisingly, the accusations were very
believable. After all, this particular bit of gossip came from the
senior pastor of the church. What he was doing sharing it with the
soldier is another question; but the pastor felt that the phrase “in
confidence” covered the possibility of the gossip being repeated.
It’s an accusation which is impossible to disprove, and is therefore
all the more believable.
It brings to mind the fact that in such
circumstances there is a strong temptation to be judgmental. Just
hearing the accusation — it is rather juicy, isn’t it — is enough to
cause judgment to rise in the mind. The soldier could never look at
the man again with the same eyes. It was many years of experience
before he could realize that this accusation was just that:
accusation. But it was enough to provoke judgment.
Just how does God want the church to deal with
something like this? Christ lays out one very basic principle in
Luke 6:38-42. The first thing to do before you attempt to correct
something like this is to make sure that you are coming in with
clean hands. That may mean that you have to correct the fault in
yourself. In the process you will need to ask God for forgiveness
and for cleansing. In all things like this you must remember: judge
the sin; reconcile the sinner.
It may surprise you, but Communion plays a
large part in this. We are taught that we must discern the body and
blood of Christ in the elements of communion (First Corinthians
11:29). We are to see his sacrifice in these things. To see the
sacrifices to ask what was the sacrifice for. If you do this,
certain things will come to mind:
First, that there is such a thing as
Second, that each and every one of us
Third, that all being sinners means
that all of us need grace.
So let me urge you this morning: if you are
faced with the difficulty of correcting another sinner, seek
forgiveness in this communion service this morning. Do this before
attempting to reconcile another sinner. As Christ said, “Remove the
plank from your own eye first.”