I get a lot of questions from people who are watching someone else make bad choices. They want to know about grace: whether or not they are supposed to offer it, how to offer it, and what it will end up looking like if they do. It’s awesome that they’re aware that they could handle this whole thing wrong, but there is a deeply rooted issue that they are completely forgetting. (I need you to know that I’m not angry, but I am very passionate about this subject.)
What do you do when another Christian knowingly disobeys God?
We all knowingly disobey God. We are always in a current state of wrong and in desperate need of Jesus at every moment. You could argue that, but you’re only arguing to reach the result of not needing Jesus in moments and spaces.
It’s so much easier to see the failures in others than it is to see them in yourself. Go ahead an argue the types of sin, but they are all equal. As bad as you make the person next to you is as bad as you are. You are not independent of the worst of them. You are their worst. It’s like your right eye trying to get all of us to join you in shaming your left eye. The left eye doesn’t bow to the right.
Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. –Romans 14:4 ESV
Even with both eyes you can’t see everything. It’s absurd and laughable for you to expect the right eye to accurately monitor the errors of the left eye.
Here is a promise: if you can see a splinter in you friend’s eye, you can be absolutely certain that there is a plank in yours. I would be really slow to start calling out the sins of others. It’s like taking a black-light to your own secrets. Things are there that you don’t even know about. Just go home and be thankful that God doesn’t show you your own crime scene photos. If you’re so bothered by the failures of others, then you’d be devastated by your own.
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. -Matthew 7:3-5 ESV
You have enough of yourself to keep you busy thanking God for grace for the rest of your lives. If you can finish being thankful and make time to start looking at the others, then something is wrong.
What does grace look like?
Let’s say you have a pretty, middle-class neighborhood of law and covenant abiding citizens. In that neighborhood, one of the family’s has a kid who is terrorizing the local cats. His behavior is unacceptable and not conducive to the environment you’re all trying to keep.
You could talk about him at your barbecues, feel sorry for his parents or drag them through dirt with him, and you can even be audible and visual about your displeasure. Taking a ride down the path of self-importance and comparison is a cheap way to cast a shadow over your poor lawn and hole digging dog. No one is paying attention to the cars illegally parked on the street because there is a bigger sinner among you. The relief you feel in not being the one not liked is enough to water down the bigger picture and strengthen your self-preservation resolve.
That bigger picture being that this kid has an issue that has nothing to do with cats. People don’t sin without there being something deeply hurting within them. A child can go into adulthood never dealing with the pain of their childhood and it manifests itself in a sin that doesn’t seem to be tied to anything but selfishness. Selfishness is a cry for love. If you would find out what hurts and fix that, then you fix the sin that is showing up on the surface.
No one can heal the hurts and brokenness of life like Jesus can. Pointing out the superficial layers only intensify the alienation and lack of love that is causing the problem in the first place. In my analogy of the kid in the neighborhood, maybe he is left alone too long because his parents are working their heads off to make ends meet. He’s bored, lonely, and needs his community to step in and take up some of the weight he and his family are unable to carry on their own.
Grace gets to the root rather than excusing and ignoring the behavior. It’s a tough job being a part of a community that is tied together by love rather than by performance and appearance. Grace always comes at the cost of self-preservation.
Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived. -Galatians 6:1-3
Do you challenge them?
Challenge them to not give up on themselves or their faith in God in spite of everything inside them that is proving how unworthy they are. Faith in God’s grace is the biggest challenge of all.
Do you keep them in your life?
Does Jesus keep you in His?
Does it appear that you are supporting their behavior if you maintain a friendship?
It doesn’t matter how it appears. Appearances are the biggest obstacle in front of a person who wants to stand up for Jesus but is afraid of what people will think. Stop worrying about what people think. You can’t please everybody. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you’ll be able to get on with the more important aspects of this life we live in Jesus. This isn’t a country club. Salvation is a messy business. If you’re too afraid of getting dirty, then get out of the way.
Give me your thoughts on being obedient to God and to His word.
For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then? -Galatians 5:14-15
Love others as you love yourself. Do you want people to give up on you because you have issues? Do you want people to talk about your dirt behind your back? Do you want to feel like you’re not welcome at your own church? Can you actually listen to these people who are in their own phase of junk? Can you put yourself in their place and take a turn walking in their crooked and ill-fitting shoes?
It’s horrible to be in the valley of your own stink. It’s terrifying to not see a way out and to watch every single person, who claimed to love you unconditionally, walk out on you. God allows us to go through the wicked hall of mirrors. He has a purpose for us seeing our worst. What’s worse than knowingly choosing wrong? If they had someone other than themselves to blame, then threshing process wouldn’t be happening.
God doesn’t leave us as victims or casualties. He allows the fire to burn holes in everything false. You can’t sit there and decide that a living, breathing person is finished with their life and they’re done for. The only person who would want to convince a wounded soldier that they are dead is the opposing army.
It’s time to take the spiritual battle for our faith seriously. Is there any sin known to man that could make God walk away from someone and never look back?
For even if the mountains walk away and the hills fall to pieces, My love won’t walk away from you, my covenant commitment of peace won’t fall apart.” The God who has compassion on you says so. -God, through Isaiah 54:10
What part of your relationship with God makes you think that you should give up on someone? When you walk away from the fallen, you are walking away from God because He is carrying them.