A community of grace is compatible with the exercise of proper discipline. Over the years I have seen the words I quote here from 1st. Timothy Chapter 5 disregarded when it comes to confronting sin, especially sin in the eldership/ leadership of he church. I have lived long enough to see some of these individuals who should have been corrected in truth and grace experience humiliation, suffer tremendous and tragic sorrow beyond the norm in a way that makes me fear God, so much so that I could not share the details or even speak them out. I often wonder if they would have been spared such suffering if they had been properly called to account by fellow leaders who truly loved them, rather than being allowed to continue in sin. Of course, if confronted, they may well not have listened.
Anyway, take a look at the words from Paul to Timothy, quoted below. As I read them tonight I thought of the incidents I mentioned above whichI know about from personal experience, but I could not help but think also of the too often repeated scene in the current charismatic world which is the part of the church I have been involved with most of my life: influential leaders appearing in public on a stage to stand with fellow influential leaders who have had powerful ministries of signs and wonders who fell into sin, affirming them and their ministry without any confession or evidence of genuine repentance, beyond an explanation of how the sin happened. Their endorsement is met by cheering crowds persuaded wrongly they are applauding grace and mercy. Whatever this pantomime is, it is not the true grace of God as defined in the bible and in Christ. It is rather a mockery of the God who has told us that what we sow we reap, and what is more, it causes confusion and the possibility of loss of a future loss of trust among the people of God when truth eventually comes filtering though into the light. It happens in the Catholic church, the Reformed churches as well as in the Charismatic churches. Sometimes it makes the secular news, sometimes it does not. No church is immune… and yes, there but for the grace of God, go I. No individual is immune from the possibility of betraying the trust placed in them as leaders.
“Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear. In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of the elect angels I charge you to keep these rules without prejudging, doing nothing from partiality. Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.”
God bless you with the true grace of God and the true fear of the Lord.