Previously, we talked about when a Christian stumbles how hurtful it is, are they really saved, and why they stumble. Today we are going to look at accountability, consequences, and loss. What is our role as brothers and sisters in Christ? What needs to happen?
We all reap what we sow both in this world and in the next.
When a believer stumbles, we all know that in this world – even if they repent – legally, there may be consequences to their actions. If they’ve broken the law, they may have to serve time. If they have damaged something, they may have to pay repairs. Morally and ethically, there may be additional consequences. If there is a pregnancy involved, the responsibility for a child is now incurred.
When a believer stumbles, they also suffer loss. They miss out on the blessings of God. The longer they walk in sin, the more blessings they miss – both in this world and in the next.
And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
2 Thessalonians 3:14-15
When a Christian stumbles, if they continue to walk in sin, you must hold them accountable. It is not scriptural to ignore their sin. It is not scriptural to treat them as if nothing is wrong. Accountability is what encourages them to turn back to God.
Holding them accountable also protects you. If you are keeping company with them, your reputation is on the line too. If they do wrong, you may also be tempted to do the same.
When a believer stumbles, it is necessary that they be allowed to suffer the consequences. It is hard to watch, and it is hard to administer. But again, it is scriptural.
In some cases, the consequences forever disqualify them from serving in a certain way. This may seem harsh, but it is also scriptural.
This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
1 Timothy 3:1-5
There is a similar passage for deacons. Both must be blameless, and the standards are very high.
Today’s challenge is to understand that God has a reason for consequences, accountability, and loss. It is not our job to circumvent it. It is our job to obey what God has set forth. What about forgiveness, mercy, and grace? Not everything can be undone, but we will talk about those next time.