When another Christian falls into obvious sin, an admonition is imperative, because God’s Word demands it. The practice of discipline in the community of faith begins with friends who are close to one another. Words of admonition and reproach must be risked when a lapse from God’s Word in doctrine or life endangers a community that lives together, and with it the whole community of faith. Nothing can be more cruel than that leniency which abandons others to their sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than that severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin. When we allow nothing but God’s Word to stand between us, judging and helping, it is a service of mercy, an ultimate offer of genuine community. Then it is not we who are judging; God alone judges, and God’s judgment is helpful and healing.
My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. Galatians 6:1
QUESTIONS TO PONDER
- Is sin taken seriously in today’s church and by today’s Christians? How is it, or how is it not?
- Why might it be “cruel” not to admonish someone whose behavior is obviously sinful? What are the dangers in admonishing someone?
- How might the church and individual Christians avoid being hypocritical and judgmental when admonishing a Christian brother or sister?
Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
and put away your indignation toward us. Psalm 85:4
- Have you ever been admonished by another Christian? If so, write about the experience. How was it done? How did it feel? What were the results?
- Have you ever offered a word of admonition to another person? If so, write about the experience. How did it feel? What were the results?
- If you answered no to the above two questions, spend some time in writing reflecting upon the idea of taking sin seriously enough to admonish another and receive admonition from another.
PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, open my ears that I may hear from your Word whatever words of admonition I need to hear that I might grow in love and faithfulness.
40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.