When was the last time someone said to you that something you were asking about or trying to do wasn’t any of your business? Most of us have had it to happen and probably the vast majority have had it to happen multiple times. It is difficult to learn how to mind your own business. The truth is that it seems much easier to mind other people’s business instead of our own. Our own often has challenges to it that make us want to avoid it. But we normally don’t see the same difficulties or obstacles to other people’s business.
I was reading this morning in I Corinthians and was hit once again with Paul’s plea in chapter 5 and verse 12 in particular. “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked person from among you.” Think back to the situation that produced this challenge. In the beginning of the chapter he said, “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this?”
The church had a huge problem. Evidently this man was a leader in the church in some fashion. His conduct was shameful, but instead of the church confronting the sin and demanding that he either change his life or they would remove him from the fellowship, they seemed to be proud of how they were able to accept a person living such a life. I suppose they thought it was an act of grace that made them more acceptable to God and other people. My guess is that someone had pointed to Jesus charge for us not to judge one another and to take the plank out of our own eye before trying to get the speck from our brothers eye. Being judgmental is a bad thing. Failure to show mercy toward each other is horrible. But it is very easy to use the charge not to judge as an excuse not to confront a brother or sister who is living in sin to plead with them to change.
It would help us to always remember that Jesus also said, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17). We aren’t to be judgmental but we aren’t to close our eyes to reality. Often people get involved in a wrong action or attitude without realizing what they have done and need to have it pointed out so they can correct it. There are also times when the church must act to stand up to sin and sinners to protect the body as a whole. Sin and its influence tends to spread and if we refuse to confront open sin it destroys the influence of the church and the accepted sin grows stronger all the time.
In the church we are to care so much for each other that we willingly risks acceptance and even friendship to build up one another and to help one another stay right. If one is living in sin and refuses to turn from it the church must have the love for God and the person to act and put them out of the fellowship in hopes that they will repent and be faithful to God. That is our business.
But it isn’t our business to straighten out all the problems in the world or sins in the world. In verse 9 beginning he said, “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.”
It is out of that charge that he said, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?” Here is the interesting point. It is much easier to judge the sins of those outside than it is those on the inside. Today we hear and think a lot about the sin of racism and it is an awful sin. But we are often far more tuned to condemning racism in the world instead of focusing on the area that is our business and confronting racism in the church. It is in the church and among Christians that God said he had torn down the wall of separation so that we might be one. It is Christians who are charged to be ministers of reconciliation in the world carrying a message of reconciliation as we plead with people to be reconciled to God that leads to being reconciled to each other.
Let’s focus on our business!