[thoughts] Confronting a Friend With His Sin (February 2-8, 2009)
- Thoughts for the Week
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CONFRONTING A FRIEND WITH HIS SIN
(2 Samuel 12:1-14)
INTRODUCTORY QUESTIONS TO CHEW
Would you rather be Nathan or David in this account?
Which would you prefer to face: David or Nathan?
When God's people sin, is reproach always brought upon God?
On what basis do I dare confront another with his sin?
How can I become easier to confront?
Why should I accept correction?
What if I don't deserve it?
BLIND AS A BAT
(original version: mid-1993)
We have no conclusive indication that David struggled with his
conscience at all. At some point early on, I would think he did. This
experience of David clearly shows how one sin can gradually sever our
contact with reality. The righteousness, omniscience and judgment of
God seem entirely forgotten by David. Amazing! David was so out of
touch that even Nathan's story did not connect properly. The prophet
finally had to accuse very directly, "Thou art the man," and tell David
point blank what he meant. The message from God was not ambiguous:
"Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do
evil in his sight? Thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of
Uriah. By this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the
LORD to blaspheme."
Isn't God faithful and merciful! He could have reacted as David did
against the rich man in the story, with immediate and harsh condemnation.
Or He could have just let David continue his descent from good to worse.
But instead of either approach, God chose exposure, conviction and
another opportunity to repent. And God emerged victorious in the hard-
fought spiritual battle for the heart and allegiance of David. Satan had
gained an upper hand, but when David got the message loud and clear,
brokenness and repentance quickly resulted. And the devil was defeated.
RESPONDING TO FAILINGS IN THE LIFE OF ANOTHER
(written in late 2000)
People aren't perfect. Come to think of it, people are *far* from perfect.
And some folks' imperfections glare. To make matters even worse yet,
we have to live with these folks! (Too bad we aren't perfect ourselves;
otherwise, we might manage all this better!) OK, we get the picture now.
But how shall we respond to these folks and their failings?
With foresight. When I wanted to harvest corn from our garden, I
planted corn. Care to guess why I did such a thing? Right! We reap what
we sow. Gardeners who have the foresight to anticipate what they wish
to harvest can easily figure out what to plant. That same principle
operates in human relationships. Jesus said, "With what judgment ye
judge, ye shall be judged" (Matthew 7:2). From this I learn that I should
have the foresight to anticipate a time when I will want certain responses
from others when *I* fail. And having that foresight, I should now sow
those very responses when I face the failings of others. It helps me to
remember that they are no less imperfect than I!
With consideration. I already alluded to this response. As we gaze upon
others' failings, we need to consider: "Why beholdest thou the mote that
is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own
eye?" (Matthew 7:3). Whenever we view another's shortcomings outside
the context of our own failures, we become judgmental, proud, scornful,
or merciless...or all those and more.
With honesty. When it comes to our responses to failings in the lives of
others, the commodity of honesty must apply equally to them and to us.
First, we need to be honest with ourselves; we need to acknowledge (and
work at removing) the rafter in our own eye. Once we have accomplished
that task (with all due delicacy and care, naturally), we are well-
prepared to go to the other person. We need to be honest with them as
well; we need to inform them (with all due delicacy and care, naturally)
that they have a sliver in their eye. We should quickly assure them that
we have hands-on, first-hand experience and knowledge in removing such
hazards to vision. Denying the mote in their eye makes no more sense
than denying the beam in our own. Humility does wonderful and salutary
things for honesty. So try them both the next time you see a fault in
FACE TO FACE WITH SIN AND SPIRITUAL NEED
(echoes from mid-1994 and early 2006)
Dare we read 1 Timothy 5:1 as an assertion that we need less rebuking
and more intreating? Perhaps not. However, consider it that way for now.
"Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and [rebuke not] the
younger men [but intreat them] as brethren; [rebuke not] the older
women [but intreat them] as mothers; [rebuke not] the younger [women,
but intreat them] as sisters, with all purity."
What do you think? My insertions above do no injustice to English
grammar and mechanics, neither do they assault the context of the
teaching. Having said that, I hasten to clarify that, as always,
understanding and applying any portion of Scripture must be done in the
broader context of God's Word to us. So I do not intend to suggest that
God forbids all rebuking.
We all sin. We all fail. We all come (far) short of 100% godliness. Thus
we all need input and correction from fellow believers, particularly those
of the local body.
How do *you* respond to and deal with failure and outright sin in the
church? Well, if you are like me, it is too easy to hinge the answer on
who the sinner is. If an "opponent" falls, the flesh barks impatiently for
quick, unbending retribution. If someone who recently corrected me fails,
the flesh exults in the wonderful opportunity to return tit for tat. If a
friend misses the mark, well...we must be loving and understanding, not
judgmental and hasty, you know. And if I goof, back off everybody!!
Not only do the responses get softer as the sinner gets closer to us, our
view of the sin moderates. Notice the subject and verbs of the dependent
clauses: opponent falls, someone fails, friend misses, I goof. That is the
flesh. God hates this kind of respect of persons. Proverbs 11:1 tells us
that a false balance is an abomination to the Lord. This kind of response
to sin is an abominable false balance!
Consider 2 Corinthians 13:11 -- "Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect,
be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love
and peace shall be with you." I am challenged by four principles to help
us respond properly to and deal wisely with the errant among us.
Faithfully following through with these will deepen our communion in
the body and with "the God of love and peace."
Be perfect. This sounds like an impossible beginning to a formidable
task. Who is perfect, anyway?! Matthew 5:48 implies that because of the
Father's perfection we can be perfect. This perfection is accomplished
through the Lord's presence in the life of the believer, by the believer
abiding in the Lord, and through the mutual dependence of each church
member (John 17:23). The Lord in me would never allow me to be harsh
or partial, and I certainly would not wish to be unkind toward the Lord
in a fellow believer! When I recognize my dependence on another
Christian, I see the foolishness of dealing unwisely with him since it
would be to my own hurt. Under these circumstances, patience becomes
much more natural, and that patience in turn leads to further perfection
(James 1:4). A perfect response toward sin and sinner also includes
"speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15). One more comment --
*perfect* here means "to mend, repair, complete, strengthen."
Be of good comfort. This Greek word can be used to mean "to admonish,
exhort, beg, entreat, beseech" or "to console, encourage, strengthen,
comfort" or "to instruct, teach." There is no room in this word for
harshness or politics. This approach works with genuine forgiveness to
help sustain the spirit and soul of the fallen one (2 Corinthians 2:7). Just
as the Lord comforts our hearts and establishes us in every good word
and work (2 Thessalonians 2:17), so we now do for any brother or sister
who has erred (2 Corinthians 1:4).
Be of one mind. This literally means to exercise the mind, that is, to
have an interest, sentiment or opinion. A restorer with one mind says
"Not me and mine, but Jesus and His." This keeps the fallen one from
being threatened by the restorer. Other Scriptures loudly and insistently
call us to be of the same mind in our humble consideration of each other
and in our humiliation for another's benefit.
Live in peace. Peace. What is it; the mere absence of conflict? I have
long been fascinated by Strong's comment that this word probably comes
from a primary verb meaning "to join." Peacemaking in the church is an
effort to rejoin that which has been severed. Living together in peace in
the church is living in oneness and mutual acceptance. Unless the errant
one knows we are not rejecting him and looking down our noses at him,
he will not respond positively to our efforts to help him rise again.
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