My True Colors: Living with and Confronting the Sins of Others

I recently was present and participated in a conversation about being impartial in our conversations and speech.  The topic rolled to how difficult it is when you have a strained relationship to not get emotionally biased.  And as I listened to the angst and wisdom of those in the room, I had to share my own experience and advice – unrequested as it was.  Looking back on that situation I see how my own heart was revealed in the words that came from my mouth and in the tone that I used.

It is difficult to counsel others with God’s words when we all struggle with similar issues of the flesh.  But thank God we are all in this together and can support and encourage each other toward Jesus and His ways!  When Christians don’t act like Jesus we not only offer grace, but we also offer the truth with love.  We use God’s Word to rebuke and correct and train.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

When grace is offered time and time again and the truth is not voiced to the brother or sister in Christ, we are, in effect, participating in their sin.

 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. (Matthew 18:15-17 ESV)

Oh, but when they will not, cannot, listen to wisdom and truth.  Take others with you and try again.  Then involve the leaders of the church.  The next step for me was misunderstood for many years.  Treat them as a gentile (unbeliever).  Jesus is not saying (as many Jews believed) to shun this person and avoid them.  But rather to love them so well that they want to know Jesus and to walk in His ways.  To offer them the grace that they do not know God’s truth.  Encourage them, pray for them, and point them to Jesus.  Because in the end, it is God’s work in them to convict them of their sins.  When we have done what we can to restore broken relationships within the body of Christ, when our beloved refuse to repent, there are even occasions where God says to release them to satan so that they might have hope to be restored to God.

Sexual Immorality Defiles the Church

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 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. Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:1-8 ESV)

We are not to allow sexual sin within the body of Christ.  Paul says that this kind of overlooking of sin, call it grace if you dare, is destructive to the body!  Remove it for everyone’s sake.  Our flesh sometimes must be destroyed so that our spirit may be saved.

Oh that we would heed God’s word and seek God’s wisdom so that these things might not be necessary!  But we are all born into sin.  Every one of us has our own battle with our flesh, and we need the help and support of God and our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Sometimes those who claim Christ Jesus know Him not.  Sometimes true mercy doesn’t look very merciful.  Sometimes, peacemaking isn’t peacekeeping.  Take courage, speak the truth in love, and let us hold one another to account for our actions.  God desires that his body be unified.  Restoration of fellowship is important to God.

Marks of the True Christian

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:9-21 ESV)

These are difficult things.  But they are God’s ways.  And in Jesus, we have all the wisdom, strength, courage, peace and truth to walk in His ways.  What a privilege it was to speak with my sisters on such a deep level that my own heart attitude was revealed.  We will all face those in life who wish to control, manipulate, intimidate, and rule over us for their own agendas.  Sometimes, they will be a co-worker, a friend, or even from within our own family and/or Church family.  Walk humbly with God.  Seek His ways – they are ALWAYS best.  Ask for His wisdom.  Speak the truth with love and restoration as your goal.  Let the other person own his/her own consequences and responses to the truth.  Pray for them.  Do good to them.  And hold them to account.  Don’t give up on them.  God is at work even when we don’t see it.  Even in me.  Be encouraged.  Press on.

I found these two sites helpful.

http://www.peacemakers.net/peace/resolving.htm

http://www.lavistachurchofchrist.org/LVanswers/2006/01-17.htm

A Watchman for Israel

And at the end of seven days, the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul.” (Ezekiel 3:16-21 ESV)

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