One of the hardest parts of being a parent is when I have to discipline one of my four children. I love them, and I don’t want to cause them any stress. I don’t want them to ever doubt my love for them. Yet, as a parent, part of my responsibility is to discipline my children when they are going down the wrong path. The key is the motivation behind the discipline. If I am reacting because I am mad, upset, or disappointed, the discipline will come across one way. However, if I have my emotions under control, the discipline will come across entirely differently. Let’s just be honest, that is a lot easier said than done sometimes. We discipline as parents, because our heavenly Father disciplines us as His children (see Prov. 3:11-12). Discipline is part of accountability. The apostle Paul shows us this in 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 when he writes, “And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”
Paul gives the motivation or the intention in the end of verse 15, “count him as a brother.” The need for the accountability is that a person who says they are a Christian is not living as though they are a Christian. When this occurs, it is up to the body of Christ to love this person enough to hold them accountable. As I have written here previously, accountability is something that we typically say that we need, yet seldom do we ever want it. By the way, Paul isn’t saying the first time a brother or sister sins, we cut them off. It is only after we have prayed about it, spoken to them in private, given them time to correct the behavior, and even take a couple of people with us the second time if necessary. The two extremes that tend to happen when it comes to discipline are these: we are either too quick to “drop the hammer” or we refuse to hold someone accountable. Here are the keys to loving accountability as I see them in Scripture: it must be done in love, it must be done slowly yet deliberately, we must be diligent about applying the same standard to all Christians, and we must do it with compassion. Our ultimate goal with discipline is restoration. If we love each other, we will do this the right way, with every one, every time.
By His grace and for His glory,