LEADERS PRUNE THE TREE: DISCIPLINE
When Moses came down from the mountain with the 10 Commandments, He and Joshua heard the people partying. Moses found the people worshiping the golden calf which Aaron participated in. Though Aaron tried to absolve himself of responsibility saying that the people are “prone to evil” and that all he did was toss the gold into the fire and “out came this calf” (Ex. 32:22,24). But Moses was buying none of these excuses. Sheep are sheep and shepherds are shepherds. It says, “Aaron had let them get out of control to be a derision among their enemies.” Ex 32:25. All excuses aside, the leadership has a responsibility to lead God’s people away from this foolishness.
When the people of Israel worshiped the golden calf, God pruned the tree so that about 3,000 died that day, Ex. 32:27,28. When Achan took gold from Jericho which God said was “under the ban”, God pruned the tree and remove the “sin in the camp”, Josh 7:1,11,20. When the church began and a husband and wife lied to God about their contribution, God pruned the tree so that they died, Acts 5:1-11. Decisive judgment of removing rebellious Christians is not a harm, but a blessing to the church. The rest of the church becomes more reverent, Acts 5:11. The rest of the congregation will fear falling into the same sin, 1 Tim 5:20. So clean the rolls of the church and stop all fellowship with those who have left. In Israel, with the 3,000 idol worshipers, the congregation of God’s people were more devout and energized to walk with the Lord.
What God intends for the church can’t be accomplished with un-pruned, dead wood on the tree. The “sin in the camp” had to be removed. Moses could intercede and plead that God not destroy Israel, but God says, “33…Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. 34 “But go now, lead the people where I told you. Behold, My angel shall go before you; nevertheless in the day when I punish, I will punish them for their sin.” 35 Then the LORD smote the people, because of what they did with the calf which Aaron had made.” Ex. 32. God has mercy and compassion on those in the camp who respond with faith and repentance. The rest were put to death.
Let the leaders of the church make an assessment of where the church is. Know what is the mission of the church and what is the mission of each member of it. Examine the health of the sheep and provide what is needed for each to be healthy Christians. Clean the house of leaven that is bringing down the overall health of the church. Strong Christians will honored. Weak Christians will be given the encouragement and reproof they need to bring them to health. And rebellious Christians will be rebuked and called to repent. And the leaders of the church must set the high bar with their own example. The church doesn’t worry about numbers. An assembly of God’s people is only concerned with being the light that reflects the glory of God. We all want to go to heaven. Let’s learn from Israel and not tolerate sin lest the church fall into the same error that Aaron allowed. Leaders must lead or they will fall. Leaders must be concerned with the health of God’s people. It means periodic pruning by the removal of dead, unfruitful members of the church.
Now, we must pray about these things. Humbly I say this. Dan Mayfield