First things first: I’m a rule-follower.
This doesn’t mean that I ALWAYS follow the rules (just ask my Mom), but I’m a rule-follower by nature. I respect authority, obey rules/laws, and absolutely HATE to be “in trouble” with anyone.
So, keep that in mind as you read this article…
Several months ago, a man was dragged off of a plane and it was caught on video. The video was posted on social media and sparked a multi-faceted outrage across the country. I wrote an article about it.
Evidently, this has become a trend. There are now more videos surfacing where passengers are refusing to obey the rules of the airline that they’ve chosen to fly with; some are even getting aggressive and violent with crewmembers that try to enforce those rules.
Among the rules that are being disregarded are: seatbelt policies, luggage policies, laptop and cell phone policies, pet policies, and the agreement that anyone who sits near Emergency Exits is responsible for certain things in the event of an emergency. Some of these rules are pretty important.
These incidents, however, have caused many airline employees to think twice about enforcing the rules when it comes to resistant and/or aggressive passengers.
This morning, there was a news story about an unofficial new approach that many airline crewmembers are adopting as a result of this problem. It’s called “Inform, Not Enforce,” and it means that the employees are simply TELLING their passengers about the rules, but they aren’t ENFORCING those rules.
At first, this sounds reasonable. After all, why would an airline employee risk being assaulted, sued, or fired over a seatbelt? But think about it: is this really the policy that we want the airlines to take? Some of these rules and policies don’t just protect the individual passenger; they protect everyone else on the plane. Are we really ok with putting other people in jeopardy simply to avoid possible conflict?
One thing is certain: most of us don’t like conflict. In fact, many of us will do anything to avoid conflict with others, even if it means adopting the “Inform, Not Enforce” policy.
Parents can be guilty of adopting this policy when they are simply tired of “fighting” their children.
Teachers can be guilty of adopting this policy when they are simply tired of “fighting” their students (or the parents of the student; or the administration).
And yes, Christians can be guilty of adopting this policy when they are simply tired of “fighting” other Christians.
But is this God’s policy? Does God’s Word sanction the “Inform, Not Enforce” approach when it comes to Christian relationships?
We are certainly instructed to “inform,” aren’t we? We see this clearly commanded in the following passages:
- 2 Thess. 3:15 - “but warn him as a brother.”
- I Thess. 5:14 - “And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.”
- I Tim. 4:11 – “Command and teach these things.”
- I Tim. 6:2 – “Teach and urge these things.”
But is this where our responsibility ends? Are we “off the hook” as long as we INFORM our fellow Christians concerning the will/Word of God? Not according to the following passages:
- I Tim. 5:20 – “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.”
- Tit. 2:15 – “Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.”
- I Cor. 5 – This entire chapter is about ENFORCING God’s will within the body of Christ. Notice these phrases:
- o“Let him who has done this be removed from among you.” – vs. 2
- o“you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.” – vs. 5
- o“Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump…” – vs. 7
- o“Purge the evil person from among you.” – vs. 13
From these passages, it seems clear that there are times within the body of Christ when we must not only INFORM, but we must also lovingly and carefully ENFORCE. When we fail to do so, we risk the eternal safety, not only of the offending party, but also of the entire body (“Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” – I Cor. 5:6)
In summary, it seems that God’s “policy” when it comes to the rules that govern His people is simple: “Inform, AND Enforce.” May God give us courage and wisdom as we engage in the often-difficult work of Christian relationships, and may we never adopt “easy,” “lazy,” or “self-serving” approaches when God has made His expectations clear.