Summary: When the church fails to practice biblical discipline it loses its influence for the cause of Christ and ruins its members. A difficult work requiring committed leadership and obedient membership, see how Paul commands it and instructs it for the Thessal
No Discipline = No Love
On the flight home from Honduras there was a sitcom about discipline. The title of the sitcom was “Yes Dear.” It involved two couples with young children. The son of one couple lied to the mother and they were discussing how to discipline him. They first tried to reason with the five year old. That failed. Then the father tried a fear tactic. He said he would make his son sorry if he did it again. The son lied again. This time they discussed spanking. One mother said it was immoral and psychologically damaging. The other mother said that she was spanked as a child and didn’t think it hurt her too much. They tried a spanking. The dad did it and he acted like he felt horrible about it. But he didn’t want to raise a liar so he told his son that every time he lied he would get another spanking. Afterward the son came to him and the dad apologized for it and promised him to go ride go-carts that afternoon. The son lied again. This time neither the mom nor the dad would spank him. But when the son came in to go ride go-carts the dad said, “I’m not taking you to ride go-carts.” The son said, “But you promised!” And the dad said, “I lied. Now how does that feel?” The son was sent to the room to think about it. Then both the mom and dad decided that since spanking didn’t work they would never spank again, but would use a more appropriate punishment.
I was both amused and disgusted. Where are people getting their directions for raising children today? Wouldn’t it be nice if children were all born with an instruction manual? God’s word provides just such a manual for raising children in his Word. One of the best books in the Bible for child rearing is the book of Proverbs. But this is not a lesson on disciplining unruly children, this lesson is about disciplining unruly Christians. Another important question is raised: Where are churches getting their directions for raising faithful Christians today? We see in this final chapter of 2 Thessalonians some specific instructions about discipline for certain behaviors of Christians who are not walking according to the way God would have us walk. While spanking is not mentioned, discipline is.
In 1 Thess. 2:7-8, 10-12 we see the clear parental relationship that Paul, Silas and Timothy have with the church here. As a mother caring for her little children or a father deals with his own children we dealt with you! It is clear that this includes both encouragement and discipline. But now that "mom and dad" are not there, (in Paul and company), they must learn to practice discipline procedures among themselves.
Interestingly enough Paul writes this letter from Corinth. At the time of writing this letter to the Thessalonians, he is working hard to spread the gospel there in Corinth and is meeting with resistance. Later he writes letters to the Corinthians and his letters are filled with disciplinary procedures. Finally, in the close of his second letter to them he says he is coming to take care of things himself. Like a Father who tells his kids on the phone, "Just wait till I get home." Listen to his words that are just like a father toward unruly children. 2 Cor. 10:1-6; 12:14-15; 13:1-4. These are words of righteous indignation toward unruly children of God!