For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God. (1 Pet. 4:17)

When the body of Christ relentlessly examines its own motives and repents when it discovers error, everyone wins.

Pastors Matt Chandler and Josh Patterson of the Village Church apologized to one of their church members for initiating discipline against her in a way that clearly lacked both compassion and consideration of the facts. In a public act of humility, Chandler stated from the pulpit, “That is behavior unbefitting to an elder of the church of Jesus Christ. We did not act in accordance with the grace we have been shown by Christ. Please forgive us.”

The church member accepted the apology, thanked them for their obvious sincerity, and forgave them. She wrote, “I am praising God for what He has done, and I continue to be amazed by the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to bring about reconciliation in the most unlikely circumstances.”

We must never allow ourselves to be caught up in the false belief that grace is a license to forsake self-evaluation and accountability. Yes, we are forgiven for our sinful actions, but we must also be diligent in finding ways, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to avoid those sins in the future. When we examine ourselves and effectively deal with whatever we discover, we have no reason to fear God’s judgment or discipline.

Give permission for trusted believers to confront you when necessary.

Doug Schmidt is a freelance writer and editor, and serves on the staff of his church as the director of small groups.