Compassionate Correction

Transcript

¬†Good morning. Good morning. It is good to be with you. My name is Joe Valenti. I’m one of the pastors here on our equip pastor. I get to lead the teams that teach us the Bible in various ways kids, youth, young adults, men’s and women’s life groups. And it’s a blast to do that, if you would, open your Bibles with me, that book of First Corinthians, that’s where we’ll be today.

And if you are as you’re turning there and just have a quick question as we begin. How many of you have ever done something stupid? Yeah, it may be hard for you to believe, but me too. I’ve done some dumb things in my life. Hey, how many of you. How many of you have ever done a dumb thing?

And somebody warned you and you ignored them and did it anyway. Yeah. How many of you ever did a foolish thing and you wished that somebody would have said something to stop you, man? Today, we’re going to talk a little bit about accountability, about the relationships that we’re supposed to have with other brothers and sisters in Christ that help us not do stupid things, that help us not continue in a lifestyle of sin, that help us to see the blind spots in our lives that we might not otherwise see.

If you were here last week, Pastor Rick Duncan preached he’s the founding pastor of our church, and he shared a little bit of our history that for years Cuyahoga Valley Church would set up church in Brecksville Middle School or in Lauren School down the street, and then we’d tear down and put it all back into a trailer and do that every week.

Well, then in 2001, this building was completed and Rick got an office over in the corner and it’s a conference room now. But back then, that was his office, and he mentioned how he kind of felt like he was living a little high on the hog because he had been so used to his office being, you know, the local library or Panera.

And as he talked about that office in his sermon last week, I remembered that office because I remember the first time I got called into that office. Some of you know my story or bits and pieces of it. It was great to hear Stephanie’s story, man. What a testimony of God’s grace, huh? Wow. And my story is actually very similar.

When I first started here, I was part time and I would I would write the lighting cues and I would set up the sound cables, and I did a lot of those types of things. But I was still living my party life and I made some choices one night and I got arrested for DUI. By God’s grace, nobody was hurt that evening, but I was in trouble and I wasn’t sure what to do with it.

And so I was in the green room that there’s a little room back behind this wall where the band hangs out. I was talking to a friend of mine and I said, What do I do, man? Like, what am I? Where do I go from here? And his solution was, you should go talk to Pastor Rick. And I was like, it sounds like a terrible idea.

Yeah. What’s option B? And and he said, well, he was he was just honest with me. He said, he’s like, you don’t have to. You can run from this. You can hide. You don’t have to hold yourself accountable. You know, you know, not too many people know you’re here. You can leave. You just graduated college. Go find a job somewhere else and keep living the way you want to live and see how it turns out.

And it was a hard season for me as I tried to decide what I was going to do. I had to answer a question that all of us have to answer, not only today, but every day as we follow Jesus. And here’s the question Am I willing to allow others to hold me accountable? Am I willing to allow others to hold me accountable to the biblical expectations of being a Christ follower?

Are you willing to allow God’s Word to have authority over your life and have somebody else pointed out to you say, Hey, brother, you’re not living according to what this says. Are you willing to respond in humility? When a trusted friend calls you to repentance, are you willing to allow others to hold you accountable to the Biblical expectations of being a Christ follower?

Let’s pray. We’ll dig into that question. Lord, you know each of us better than we know ourselves. You know our strengths and our weaknesses. You know, the deep, dark, hidden spots that nobody else knows. You know the shame. You know the guilt. You know the things that we have made. Jesus stories of in our life. You know, all of the consequences that we’ve had to endure for our behavior.

You know, the damage that we’ve caused. You know the damage that others have caused to us. And, Lord, you know what we like. And so you know that we’re prone to hide. We’re prone to avoid vulnerability. We’re prone to defensiveness. Any time someone tries to correct us, you you know that we’re prone to fiercely guard our individualism. But, Lord, that’s not how you’ve called us to live.

You’ve not called us to live alone or isolated. For those who are in Christ, you’ve made us a part of a body that is intended to function collectively, in community, in relationship. And so, Lord, we need help, we need forgiveness, we need healing and we need humility. So would you help us today? Would you guard me from error access in Christ name?

Amen. So over the last two weeks we’ve been in first Corinthians four. And if you’ve missed the beginning of this series, we’re getting ready to launch into kind of all of the concerns, the nitty gritty concerns that Paul has with the church in court. But up to this point, if I could summarize the message, it has been this, Hey, current audience, you think you’re way better, you’re doing way better spiritually than you really are to the people in Corinth.

They’re affluent, they’re skilled. Many of them have rhetorical skill. That was very highly it was it was a it was made one astute in Corinth. And Paul tells them, you’ve got the wisdom of the world. You’re a big deal as a Corinthian, but you don’t have the wisdom of God. You’re misunderstanding the two. And so he’s trying to get them to convince them to take a good, hard look at themselves and to listen to his correction and his rebuke.

Now, in Chapter four, he starts getting a little fired up with the Corinthians. If you were here last week, the text that we preach the last week gets it kind of drips with sarcasm, where Paul kind of goes, Oh, oh, you guys are just doing fine, aren’t you? You don’t need all Paul coming in here telling you how to live.

You know what? We should probably switch things. Well, why don’t you be in charge and you teach me? That would be much better since you’re doing so well. And then he shifts here to talking about his authority to call them on the carpet, to hold them accountable. And there’s something in us that when we hear that word authority, there’s something that like, you know, makes us want to buck that authority right there.

Something goes, Oh, I don’t like this. No matter what environment it’s in, we go, I don’t like that because one, we’re fallen, but two, we live in this culture now where to question someone, to correct someone to disagree with someone to call someone to a certain standard is viewed as unloving. So what we’re supposed to do, what the culture tells us to do, is just let people figure out what their truth is and then affirm it, which is nonsense, right?

Come on. What we are supposed to do is look at this truth and confess form our lives to it. And so a lot of times as Christians, we will follow the culture. And so one of the, you know, phrases that I’ve heard in Christianity is like, well, we’re not supposed to judge other people. And I go, Well, do you read that?

No, it’s in there, right? It’s there. Matthew seven Jesus talks about that, but let’s look at the context, right? Jesus doesn’t say, hey, everybody, don’t judge, don’t worry about everyone else is doing, but everyone do their thing and just leave him alone. It’s not what Jesus says. Jesus gives us a context for how to judge. He says, Hey, look at the plank in your own eye before you go looking at the speck in your brother’s eye.

So he gives us a context for how to interact. He says, Hey, go in to that conversation, humbly recognizing that you have plenty of things going on in your own life that are wrong. Don’t come to your brother or your sister in pride, looking down your nose, thinking that you’re better than them. There’s an approach to rightly entering into accountable relationships and conversations.

In the book, we Ephesians, Paul says that we are to submit one to another out of reverence for Christ. We don’t like that word either man authority. That’s a bad one. And then submit. We really go. Who? No, thanks, but that’s what Paul calls us to do. He calls us to submit to one another. And so we’re going to talk this morning about how to do that the right way.

There’s wrong way to do it. There’s a right way to do it. Paul gives us the right way to do it. First Corinthians four Starting in verse 14. Let’s read the whole text, then we’ll start to pick it apart. I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for God became your Father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel, I urge you then be imitators of me.

That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere, in every church. Some are arrogant as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon if the Lord wills and I will find out. Not the talk of these arrogant people, but their power for the Kingdom of God does not consist in talk, but in power.

What do you wish? So I come to you with a rod or with love in a spirit of gentleness. I have five things this morning that I see in this text about Christian accountability. Number one, Christian accountability is helpful, not hurtful. Christian accountability is helpful, not hurtful. Look again at verse 14, he says, I do not write these things to make you ashamed.

So he’s not trying to shame the Corinthians and just make them feel bad about themselves. But to admonish you, that’s a fancy word that we don’t use very often, but is to warn you. Right. We we talked about that at the very beginning. How many of us have ever done something and we wish somebody would have warned us, Paul, saying, I’m not just trying to make you feel bad or feel guilty or feel shame.

I’m trying to warn you that the way you’re living is going to lead to distrust sin. And I’m doing that as my beloved children. You know, there’s kind of a tone that you’ll read throughout First Corinthians where Paul is very forward. You know, sometimes we need a spirit of gentleness in our connection with one another, in our accountability with one another.

Sometimes we really need to ramp up the firmness in the way that we approach one another. There’s a phone number in my phone and I leave it there because every now and then, as I’m typing in a number, that name will come up. And it’s a good reminder for me. I was in a pastoral situation with a person who was dealing with drug addiction and I was pretty gentle with that person.

And I feel like maybe as I look back, I maybe I should have been a little bit more forward with them. Maybe I should have pushed a little bit harder. Maybe I should have admonished them a little bit more intensely because just a few days after that conversation, that person died from overdose. And I was as gentle and loving as I could have been.

And it’s not what they needed. You know, I don’t carry the guilt or the fallout from that. There were a lot of pieces of the puzzle, but I think some of us may have scenarios in our lives friends, family members, college roommates, coworkers where we saw something. There was a warning to Beloved and we didn’t bring that warning out of fear of offending.

Or maybe we were a little bit too gentle sometimes. Correction hurts, you know, our aim should not be to be hurtful. That’s called abuse, and that’s dangerous. Our aim is to be helpful, and sometimes being helpful hurts you. Tracking with me is really important to get the nuance between these two things. When we go to a brother or sister and we see that they’re living in a way that is incongruent with God’s word, and we see the potential damage that it can cause.

We need to aim to be helpful in the way that we approach them, even if it hurts. I think about if your little girl is running towards the street and you see the car coming around the bend, you’re not going to go well. I hope that car doesn’t hit her. It’s insane. You’re going to scream and go, Hey, sweetie, stop.

Oh, oh. And she gets right to the edge. There goes the car. And you’re so glad that you got loud. We’re always aiming to be helpful. Not hurtful, but that doesn’t always mean that we’re gentle. One of the quotes that I ran across in my study this week is by Paul Gardiner. His commentary on First Corinthians is excellent, and he says one of the sadnesses of our modern world is that our tendency is to equate genuine love with softness of speech.

Christian accountability is helpful, not hurtful, but it’s not always gentle. Number two, Christian accountability is relational, not remote. Relational, not remote versus 14 and 15. Again, I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children for though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your Father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel, the word guides there.

The underlying Greek word is, is where we get our word for pedagogy, your pedagog. And if your teacher in the room, you may know that word. It’s it’s the the science of the study of learning how to teach and pedagogs in ancient Greek civilization were servants in a household that were responsible for making sure that the children stayed at their studies.

Maybe that any of you grow up and you went to Catholic school and you had a nun with a ruler that would wacky on the knuckles from time to time. Oh, Timmy, did you get that from time to time? Maybe once or twice, right? That’s kind of the picture of a pedagog that they were just there to make sure that you stayed on task.

Oftentimes in in the art of that time, a pedagog was was was was drawn or painted with with like a rod in their hands. So the picture that Paul is writing here saying, hey, you might have countless people who are just interested in correcting you, but you don’t have many people like me who care about you so deeply like a father that I’m willing to engage at this level.

Right. Like, you know, this, especially if you are on social media there. There’s no end to the number of people that would love to tell you what you’re doing wrong. It’s easy. It’s easy to find somebody to correct you or to make a comment about your life without knowing anything about you. Your your circumstances or having a relationship.

And Paul saying you may have the actual phrase here’s you may have 10,000 people, 10,000 guides to correct you, but you’ve only got one father. Accountability happens in the context of relationship. Paul knows these people. He planted this church. And accountability has to happen in the context of relationship because we have to build trust in order for accountability to work.

One of the things that’s really difficult for me, I’ve been in student ministry for almost two decades now, and I watched these little sixth graders that come in and they’re so full of life and they’re like, the world is their oyster. Like, they’re so happy, they’re so excited, they have a ton of fun and then middle school hits them and right.

Aaron Then middle school hits them. Aaron Son is in my life group and that’s how Adrian was meant for life. And then middle school is like, right? Middle school. Why? Because middle school is the place where you learn to distrust people, where everyone, most of them is out to hurt you. Because that’s how middle schoolers think. They don’t know what to do.

They don’t know how to respond. Everybody’s hurting everybody. And so the solution is, well, hurt before you get hurt. And I watched this I watched this transformation sixth, seventh, eighth grade in the high school. And then we end up in these lives as adults where we don’t trust people, where every time a comment is made or a correction is levied towards us, we always think, what are you trying to get out of this?

What are you trying to do to me? How are you trying to hurt me? This is the fallen world that we live in. But in order to have accountable relationships, we’ve got to push past that. Get to know people. Get to know their story and develop, redevelop a trust by the power of the Holy Spirit. So that when somebody corrects us, when somebody sees something in our life that they want to hold us accountable to our initial response is not immediate defensiveness, but we can actually receive that correction because we trust that person.

You tracking with me. It has to be relational, not remote. You can’t just show up here every Sunday and not jump into relationship and expect that your walk with Jesus is going to grow. There’s just today, even with the snow, a thousand people have come in and out of these doors and like, you know, you can go into the you can go to the failure after service and just spin around in a circle.

And whoever you land on, you go to that person say, hey, I want to build a trusting relationship with you, an accountability. That’s they’re going to you’re going to freak them out. There are better ways to do it. There are better ways to do. We call them life groups. So life groups are smaller groups. The way that we make this big community small, 10 to 15 people you meet on a regular basis, you get to know people, you get to know their story, you get to know their history and you build trust.

You grow that relationship. You study the Bible together. You see what does God call us to do? And then you can begin to hold one another accountable to living according to God’s commands. If you’re not in a life group, you’ve got to get in life group. You just have to do it. There’s a fancy tool. So if you go, you go to CBC online, you get home today, front page, there’s a button that says Life Group.

There’s going to be a picture of, oh, I think I’m the picture. Huh. So right below me, I mean, literally, this is how you’re going to remember right below me, there’s a life group button, click on the life group button, and there’s a fancy tool in there where you can say, Here’s the night of the week, I have free, here’s the type of person I am, here’s the kind of group I want to get, and it’ll do all sorts of fancy magic and spit out the different life groups that’ll fit for your schedule and your season of life.

We tried to make it as easy as possible, get into a life group, connect with people, get to know people. That’s your first step in building an accountable relationship. If you don’t have a Christian friendship yet, jump into a life group. I just want to say I saw Dale in the foyer as well. If you’re a guy in the room, Men of Consequence Men’s Retreat is coming up.

It’s it’s like 24 hours, 24 hours your time. And I know hey, men, I know a lot of you are out there crushing it, working hard, trying to provide for your family. Hallelujah. I know you’re busy. I get it. Just 24 hours. 24 hours. And you can meet some other dudes. Right now, there’s about 50 guys signed up.

All different age ranges. Just do it. Just go. Just sign up, wives. I’m begging you. Like, hold on. I know you hold down the fort all the time. Would you give me 24 more hours? Because my hope is that your husband would come home encouraged and ready to jump into your having built a relationship so he can jump into accountability.

Dale is going to be out in the foyer, at the doors, to the right. Do it. It’ll be good for you. Christian accountability is helpful, not hurtful. Relational, not remote. Third, humble, not haughty. Humble, not haughty. Verse 15 four Low. You have countless guides in Christ you do not have many fathers, for I became your Father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel.

Anybody ever have a boss? I was actually just talking to somebody before the service and she’s been in her industry for quite a long time and she they just hired somebody who’s way younger than her to be her boss. Right. Anybody ever have that happen? And, you know, the person that they hire maybe doesn’t have a whole lot of experience, but they have authority.

And boy, do they like to use that authority. Right. This is kind of the world that we live in where one of the reasons that we that we shy away from the word authority is because people don’t always use their authority effectively. They’ve not built influence or relationship. They just have authority and they like to wield it. Paul is reminding us that that’s not what he’s doing.

He’s reminding us that the relationship, that the family, that the connectedness, that his authority to correct them, to instruct them, to admonish them comes through the gospel. Paul is in real time working out the whole plank in the eyes spec in the eye situation. He’s not saying you’re to listen to me because I said so because I have this office, because I’m really important.

He goes, No, no, no. This is a gospel issue. I brought the gospel to you and he’s he’s remember saying that not so long ago he was the one who was the Christian killer. Paul was the man who needed the gospel. He needed forgiveness. He needed grace and Jesus interacted with his life. And he says, What’s the first thing?

He says, Paul, why are you persecuting me? Jesus calls him right on the carpet. Why are you living the way that you’re living in? Paul’s remembering that moment as he writes to the Corinthians and he’s saying, My fatherly affection, my authority over you. My the reason that I’m calling you to this type of response is not because I have some general authority or some sort of position.

It’s because in the gospel, this is what I’m called to do. We have to come to one another humbly remembering from where we came. Sometimes we get older in the faith. We’re ten, 20, 30, 40 years down the road in our faith, and we see young people doing foolish things and we look down our nose at them instead of mentoring them because we forgot what it was like to tell the story in the baptismal.

We forget where we came from and it makes us haughty instead of humble. Christian accountability has got to be humble. We recognize our mutual need for the gospel and we approach one another out of that heart posture. Number four Christian accountability is progressive, not passive. Now, culture is sort of stolen that word progressive. And it sometimes means something that it doesn’t mean.

What I mean when I say progressive is making progress. Christian accountability makes progress. It’s not passive. I one of my accountabilities partners is in the room and Bob and I had breakfast a couple of weeks ago and one of the things that we were talking about was that we had both been lax in our prayer time with our wives.

And so there are two things that we can do. We can be passive, we can go, Oh, yeah, man, I know it’s been rough, you two. Mm. How are those eggs? But that’s how some accountability relationships are. It’s just like sharing how you’re failing and then going along with your life. It’s not what accountability is. It doesn’t spur us on towards growth.

So we shared back and forth and Bob goes, Well, let’s set a goal. Let’s do something about it. And if I were if I recall the conversation, I was like, How about we aim at like, like, like three, three days this week he goes, he’s like, there’s seven days in a week coming. I’m like, Okay, we do it that we do it.

Seven or eight would do it. Seven, let’s go. He was like, Yeah, we’re doing seven. Okay, so then we start texting one another, right? We set a goal in Christian growth. We’ve all already had the heart. Our attitudes were good. We wanted to pray with our wives, spend more time doing that. We just weren’t doing it, just being lazy.

So Peyton ourselves in the back got oh you know we’ll get him next time, brother. You know, set a goal. We want to grow and we’re going to do it. And for a couple of weeks we crushed it. Now, Bob, we have a conversation. A couple of weeks, man. I’ve kind of slipped off. Be honest with you, bro, but that’s what it is right now.

I’m holding myself accountable. I got to grow. And the Christian life is about growth. We see it throughout the Bible and Paul says, I urge you then to be imitators of me. That’s why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ as I teach them everywhere in every church.

What a statement for Paul to be able to say like, Hey, I’m not perfect, but you can look at me, you can look at my life. The way that I’m living. I’m I am striving to pursue congruence to God’s word in every way so you can look at me. We need people like that in our lives. We need people that we can look at, that we rub shoulders with.

This is when you jump into a life group, you’re going to meet people that are better than you at stuff. And being around them and learning from them is one of the ways that we grow. Like, I am not a skilled evangelist. I’m not very good at it. Pastor Chad he like it’s it’s words at the top of his mind all the time.

So as I spend time with him, my heart for evangelism grows. Jack Hopkins is he’s on our staff. He started going to church when he was in eighth grade, and he went all the way through high school. Even when he was in college, he was still serving and now he serves on our staff. Now, if you were to listen to Jack play the guitar, if you’re a musician and you’ve ever heard me play the guitar, you’ll notice Jack plays the guitar a lot like me.

The way that he strums, the way that he picks. I can close my eyes if he’s leading in a worship service. And sometimes I get a little grin on my face because I hear myself playing now. I never gave Jack a guitar lesson ever a day in his life. The reason Jack plays guitar like me is because for the last ten years of his life, he’s been playing guitar with me in bands, reading up front and in Clyde and in various events around the area.

Jack has learned to play guitar like me by being around me playing guitar, and in the same way we need to surround ourselves with people that we want to be like. That’s again, this whole Christian community piece. And when we’re in a life group, when we’re in community, we learn and we grow by emulating people who are farther along in their spiritual walk.

And hopefully there are things in our lives that they will learn from as well. We’ve got to be committed, though, to grow. We can’t just be stagnant in our walk. If you were to ask me, Pastor Joe, are you alive? I wouldn’t go run home and bring back my birth certificate and show you see I’m alive. The argument that I would make to you is, look, we’re two.

I’m doing a live person. Things, I’m talking, I’m breathing, we’re conversing in the same way. You want to know, am I a Christian? Well, there’s a fruit of the spirit coming out of you. That’s how you know. Are you. Are you growing? That’s how you know. That’s why we are to assess ourselves throughout our Christian life, to look at yourself, to see test yourself, to see if you’re in the faith.

Christian accountability is progressive, not passive. Finally, Christian accountability is firm, not feeble. Verse 18 Some are arrogant as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon. If the Lord wills it, I will find out. Not the talk of these people, but their power for the Kingdom of God is not consistent talk. Excuse me, but in power.

What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod or with love in a spirit of gentleness? So there are some people in Corinth who this letter is not going to be enough. And so Paul says, You know what, I’m just going to come for a visit. He’s going to walk from Ephesus to Corinth, which is about the same distances.

If we were to walk from here to Monterrey, Mexico. Okay, so no, but get home. How important is this? Paul loves the Corinthian church so much. He wants so deeply for them to understand these things, for them to receive the correction, for them to adjust the way that they’re living and thinking to the instructions in God’s Word that he says, I’m going to send this letter ahead, but the letter’s not going to be enough.

So I’m going to show up and sometimes we need to push, push, push, push on our brothers and sisters that are making shipwreck of their lives. I’ve called brothers before where I like, and I’ll leave voicemails, I’ll leave text messages, and I’ll go, Look, if you don’t answer me, I will show up at your office. We get I’ll just wait in the parking lot.

I know what kind of car you drive, bro. You don’t want to talk about this. Like I’m going to push the issue because I’ve seen some friends of mine that are that have wandered so far down the path of rebellion that they completely ghosted me. And I go, It’s not good enough. I’m not okay with that. So if I if I had to show up, embarrass you at your office.

Okay. All right, that’s fine. I’ll I’ll do that if I’ve got it. Like, there have been times when I have I have threatened to get on a plane my best buddy lives in California and I’ll do it. I’ll get on a plane and I’ll fly to California. I’ll cancel my plans. Right. And that’s what that’s what Paul’s at here is sometimes you’ve got to love people so desperately that as we’re watching them walk in rebellion, we don’t just let them be.

We don’t just say few kind words or a text. We actually go after them, we pursue them. We walk from emphasis to core if it’s necessary. And that’s what he says. You want me to I’ll show up and I can come one of two ways. I can come with a rod in my hand, or I can come with gentleness.

How do you want me to come? Sometimes our correction of one another has got to be a little bit more firm than it is always aiming to help. It’s not get that we can’t miss that, but sometimes we’ve got to go after one another a little bit more intentionally, a little bit more fully and in his 2021 sermon, That Passion, which is a conference for young adults, Matt Chandler says to young adults there, how unloving is it for you to step back and cross your fingers and go, Man, I hope my friend gets through this stupid face.

How many of us have made mistakes? And we wish that somebody that somebody would have come after us. Somebody were grabbed us by the collar and said, What do you do? What are you doing? Stop. You’re destroying your marriage. You’re destroying your family. You’re destroying your finances. You’re destroying your future. I’m so glad that somebody did that for me in that room back there.

And here’s what happened. I threw up for about a week because I was so anxious to go talk to Pastor Rick. I couldn’t sleep and I made the plans. He had this big desk like you walked in and it was like he had like the every wall was lined with books. And I walked in there and I explained the situation that had happened.

And I, I felt like saying, could you just just please fire me so I can get out of this room? Just do it. Just be done with it. He goes, Open your Bible. And I said, Oh, here we go. He’s going to hit me with a Bible verse and then fire me. And he said, Joe, open your Bible to Galatians six.

And I did. And he said, Read it out loud. And I did. Brothers, if anyone is caught in a transgression, you are spiritual. Should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you to be tempted bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the Law of Christ. And he looked at me and he said, Your desire is not to condemn you, but to restore you.

And I’m here to tell you that moment in that room changed my whole life. Everything changed. And I never looked back. And it didn’t happen because of a sermon. I mean, I grew up in a church about this size. I had heard sermon after sermon after sermon. It didn’t happen at some sort of conference or youth camp. All those things are good.

I don’t mean to disparage them in any way. Those are wonderful things. My life took a wrong article turn because somebody had the guts to correct me and to confront me about the way that I was living. And what I received was help to get better and grace that I could grow and change my whole life. I had to go through some counseling.

I had to do some classes for recovery. I was pulled out of a lot of the ministry responsibilities that I had. There was correction, there were consequences, but it was all done in a spirit of gentleness. It was helpful, not hurtful, and it set in my life on a completely different trajectory. The counselor that I had, his name was Frank, and he was such a wonderful man.

And I saw him a couple months ago and he said to me, Oh, boy, it’s like, man, when I met you, you had one foot out the door on the other foot on a banana peel. MAN But two men willing to love me off. Three Pastor Brian Hall was a big part of that season, too. You know, those men’s willingness not to let me just float down the road changed my whole life.

And so I’m pleading with you to get into a relationship where you can be held accountable to God’s word and where you can grow. That’s where the real life change happens. And so here’s my action step for you. I mean, ask everybody, get out your phone. Just do it.

Get out your phone. And you’re not going out. You’re not signing up for anything. I’m not going to chat back and forth with you. We’re not secretly going to put you on some sort of list. I want you to text that number. So put that number in the to field and then just type that word relate and here’s what’s going to happen.

I’ll tell you in a few minutes, you’re getting a text back from that. It’s automated. It’s not somebody going who sending it. So you’re going to get a text back with a link and the link is going to take you to a Web page that has some great accountability questions, you know, some questions that you can ask a brother or sister to ask you.

So you’ve got the questions. Now, here’s your main action step. If you are not in the habit of being in a relationship with a brother or sister in Christ who loves you and who cares about you, where you dig in to one another’s lives, where you challenge one another, where you encourage one another, where you call out sin.

If you’re not in that habit, I want to encourage you to text, phone, call email, in-person conversation and welcome that in your life this week. Say, Hey, here’s a of questions. I’d like to start meeting with you every other week and I want you to ask me these questions. Open up the door to begin to have this type of relationship in your life so that collectively we can grow in the grace and the knowledge and the faith of Jesus Christ.

So we can guard one another from shipwreck in our faith, and so that we can truly begin to develop unity as a body of believers. I’ll give you a foretaste next week, Chapter five We’re getting into sexual immorality and sexual sin. Yeah, here we go. I told you I was coming. Told you this. Coming a couple of weeks ago, right?

It’s coming. And you need got to have somebody in your life, man. As we go through these next several chapters, you’ve got to have somebody in your life that you can love and trust that’s going to ask you those questions so that you don’t walk out of here every Sunday, just over overwhelmed with guilt and shame and nodding, not knowing what to do with it.

So make that call this week. Send that text message this week. Begin that relationship and you’re going to be better for it and be better for it at this moment. Right now, like it did to mine, this might be saving your life. That phone call this week might save your marriage. It might save your family. It might save you a disaster in the next 5 to 10 years.

Make the call. Ask the questions, jump into relationship with somebody who loves you. Let’s pray God, we love you today and we want to be more like you. We want to be more like you. We want to pursue holiness and faithfulness. We want to be there for our spouses and for our children. We want to leave a legacy of Christ likeness.

When we when that moment comes, when we’re late in the casket, maybe in front of this church, what are people going to say? God, I pray that you would guard each of us from the damage that we could potentially cause if we continue in the ways that we’re living with our sin unchecked. God, I pray for those in the room who are scared to take this step.

Would you give them courage by the power of your spirit in God? Would we approach one another in ways that are helpful and not hurtful? We run after our friends with passion, and I pray, Lord, that you would sanctify, make this church holy as you are holy, and help our submission to one another. To do that, we ask this in Jesus name.

Amen.