1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)
Correcting/disciplining an athlete is not a fun part of coaching. While I’m sure there are coaches who get a kick out of doling out disciplinary actions, most coaches would likely say that this part of coaching does not add great joy to their lives. However, any great coach would not skip discipline because, if done well, it is one of the most valuable things they can offer their athletes. I read an article by a coach entitled “How to discipline a young athlete”, and in it the coach suggests that: “The bottom line is to get the child to change behavior. If what the young athlete is doing needs discipline, then the discipline is given so they will not do it again. Discipline should be given to change what has been done, in hopes that it doesn’t occur again.”
Anyone coaching with the right motive, wants to make their athletes better at their sport, but more importantly they want them to learn important life lessons. Providing caring discipline is a vital part of that. Similarly, there is a vital place in the Christian walk for both delivering and receiving discipline.
One of the most misused verses in the Bible comes from Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged”. I have heard this verse quoted on its own from evangelical Christians, nominal Christians, and even non-Christians. Interestingly, almost every time I hear it quoted on its own, it is used to excuse sin. The Greek word used here is krinō and it means “to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong”. Like many other verses that are misused, the issue is that it is taken out of context. (Original Hebrew/Greek manuscripts that formed our modern Bibles did not have chapters/verse numbers. Our numbering system is helpful to find various passages, but one downside is taking sentences out of context.) Some people will keep quoting this scripture in context and say: “2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:2-4). The issue is that these people never quote the very next verse: 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:5).
You see we have a responsibility to help our brothers and sisters to avoid the entrapments of sin. We are a team, and if our hands are clean and our hearts are pure, we will have a desire to help. As Jesus rightly points out, it begins with introspection to deal with our own planks. This needs to be a daily activity so that we can be useful and available tools for God to use us to provide correction to the family of believers. If we are humble, then we understand that we too are sinners saved only by grace. In this place we can provide righteous judgement of a situation with the sole intent of restoration. Jesus’ thoughts on this topic end with verse 6: “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” I have seen both the humble receiving of correction from Christians and I have also been torn to pieces. I have learned with whom to share the pearls of correction. May you too deal with your planks and then have the courage to share God’s pearls.