Fundamentals of Biblical Discipleship Part 4: Spheres of mentoring:
Pastor to layman part 3
Thirdly, Paul commands Timothy to rebuke. Now you may be thinking, “I thought that is what the last word meant.” You would be partially right. As far as I can tell, this word is very close to the word before, yet it carries a slightly stronger sense. Rebuke means to honor, award a merited penalty censure severely, or charge sharply. It carries the idea of a public rebuke, not just a private confrontation. Matthew 18:17 says that if your brother does not respond properly to a private confrontation or a confrontation by two or three witnesses, then “Tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” This same idea is found in I Corinthians 5. In this passage, the church was commanded to publicly discipline an unrepentant fornicator in the church. In I Timothy 1, Paul mentions two men that were false teachers whom he handled the same way. Biblical church discipline is not pleasant, yet it is part of mentoring the flock that God has committed to your care. Some people may see this as especially harsh, yet this is a Biblical command to the church, that must be motivated by a love for purity in the body and for the restoration of that brother who has rebelled in unrepentant sin. The blessing of this passage is found in the next epistle to the Corinthians. In that letter, Paul instructed the church on restoring that repentant brother. Mentoring at times involves tough love, but it is for the benefit of the whole body, including the sinning brother. I once had a missionary friend who related to me a situation that he had been dealing with in his young church plant. One of the members of his church was involved in a serious matter that needed to be dealt with as a church discipline. I can remember him sharing with me the pain of dealing with this situation, yet his understanding that for the sake of this believer and the body the confrontation must take place. Praise God that when this believer was confronted there was repentance and a desire to take the necessary steps to restoration in the body. I can remember after the fact his relief and joy in this spiritual victory. Discipline worked, and those involved in the process were sobered and grew through that process. Satan will do anything in his power to hinder the growth, testimony, and purity of any doctrinally sound local church. He seeks a foothold in the following areas: unrepentant sin, compromised discipline, improperly motivated discipline, and unwillingness to restore repentant sinners. I pray that the Lord will give you wisdom and grace as you exercise this aspect of local church pastoral mentorship.