Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Cruel vs. Kind

In my last blog, I mentioned that hurt and intentional cruelty are not necessarily the same thing. In fact, sometimes the kindest thing we can do is to "hurt" someone.
Take for instance, 1 Corinthians 5:5 "hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord." This was the case when Paul told the church to put a man out of the fellowship for sexual sins. That was definitely a hurtful act, but what was the potential payoff? "his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord." Which would have been more cruel, to let the man go on thinking everything was okay and only finding out when it was too late that his spirit was lost or to cause temporary pain that would result in eternal joy?
In the Christian church today, we want to be nice to everyone. We don't want to hurt people's feelings by correcting them. Sometimes we allow doctrinal errors to go unchallenged because we can't think of a nice way to correct someone in public.
Paul didn't worry about that. When Peter stopped followshipping with Gentile believers because they were uncircumcised, not only did Paul call him on it, but then he wrote about it for everyone to know what had happened. (Read Galatians. Who was Paul talking about in Galatians 5:12?) Maybe if the Church had a few more Pauls willing to challenge false teachings, even from other leaders, we'd see a lot more of the Holy Spirit's power at work today.
Of course, we have to make sure God is going to be glorified in all we do, and we need to know we're correct before we correct others. That's why we need to constantly be in the Word and be sharing what we've learned with others who will challenge us to know the truth, not encourage us to accept what's popular theology.