Anonymous asked: Hey Unka Glen, I’ve having trouble with my relationships with people lately. I get into conflict with them inevitably because of [their] sin. This time it was difficult because it was a situation where I found out about something accidentally, and told the other person upfront what I did not like and why. I’m not so sure if I handled the situation in a godly manner, I was a bit anxious, worried, and frustrated. What should I do?
Unka Glen answered: So what you’re telling me, is that you have problems in your relationships because you go around pointing out people’s sins, and they don’t like that? Hmm. I’d say it’s actually you that needs to repent and turn from your sin (ouch, right?), because this kind of behavior is rude, unbiblical, and lacks the nurturing quality that God calls forth in us. Deep down you already knew this, that’s why you were anxious and worried.
Some Christians have a way of not being able to live with sin, so they hide it, deny it, and act perfect to other people who act perfect back at them. Once an undeniable sin enters the picture, the only thing to do is to shame people into hiding it away like the rest of us. This is not Biblical Christianity. Not by a long shot.
Let’s start with some basic Biblical realities. The Holy Spirit convicts people of their sin. That means that deep down sinners know they’re sinning. They may not admit it, they may not be able to acknowledge it, they may deny it, but they feel it. Acting on the blind and frankly ridiculous assumption that sinners sin because nobody is telling them it’s a sin, you (bless your heart) come along and put your finger on that raw nerve, and you’re confused as to why that ends poorly.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t convict everyone of all their sin all the time, or we’d all be overwhelmed. So He convicts us of the sin that is most important for us to get rid of. This means that if you convict someone of a different sin, and thus distract them away, then you’re actually working AGAINST the leading of the Holy Spirit.
So here are a few important questions to ask yourself:
- Have I prayed about whether now is the right time to point out this person’s sin?
- Is this the kind of thing a jerk would say?
- Does this person see me as a pastor, mentor, or elder sibling in the faith?
- Have I earned the right to be heard?
That last one is a critical hurdle for you to get over before speaking up. If I’ve earned your respect as a man of God, if you believe that I love you and have only your best interests at heart, if you believe that I do not judge you but have listened to the Lord regarding this sin… then you’re likely to receive a word from me on this sin.
If you haven’t earned the right to be heard, and you aren’t sure if this is exactly what the Lord wants pointed out, then wait, and keep silent while you do.
Keep silent you say? How can I? Isn’t it our sacred and solemn duty to point out sin!? Nope. It isn’t. You’re meant to preach the Good News, to love, forgive, and have patience in equal measure to that which you’ve received, and to proclaim freedom to those in bondage to sin.
Jesus hung out with drunkards so often He was actually accused of being a drunkard. He was close with prostitutes and tax collectors. But when it came to rebuking sin, Jesus constantly points to the kind of wrong attitude that you (and all too many of the rest of us) are guilty of showing: ”Woe to you, experts in the law, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” (Luke 11:46)
It turns out that weighing people down with the need to stop sinning is not Biblically praiseworthy behavior. When Jesus says “woe to you” it’s time to pull up and quit what you’re doing.
I know you’ve seen plenty of Christians act this way, getting into the public eye and condemning sinners for sinning, and all the other Christians seem to agree with this, but it’s not the path that Christ taught us to walk, and what’s more, it’s not even the path that you want to walk. This isn’t the kind of Christian you want to be, it’s the kind of Christian that other Christians have wrongly suggested that you should be.
The Holy Spirit convicts people of their sins, you’re there to be the other half of the conversation: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)
Prostitutes, drunkards, tax collectors… they all loved Jesus for the message He preached. If the “sinners” in your life don’t like the message you’re preaching, then I think it’s time to point that finger of conviction back at yourself.
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