How do you handle it when other people sin? This is a loaded question for sure. Packed tight with mixed emotions and many experiences, responding to sinful actions can be a challenge.
You know you in for some talking to when the Apostle Paul starts out with Dear brothers and sisters. That’s I’m-getting-ready-to-set-you-straight kind of talk. These words are tough love wrapped up with affection.
Read the verses below and see what I mean:
So dear friends, let’s tackle these tough-love words written to help us navigate the often tricky waters of handling problems and getting along with others.
We all have a tendency to think we know best, often with a dose of self-righteousness on the side. We serve up advice, confident we’ve got it together. At least I do.
Sometimes we get a little too impatient with the shortcomings of those around us–particularly from those we expect better of.
Here’s the problem: if another believer falls into sin.
Since we all struggle with sin and selfishness, chances are we are going to have to deal with this problem. Everyone sins. We all make mistakes, say irritating words, and do wrong things. I’d be the happiest mom on the planet if everyone around me would behave all the time, but that just isn’t going to happen.
There is a relationship implied by the phrase, another believer. Paul is writing to a group of people, the Galatian church, and this instruction is to be applied within that relationship. Therefore, I’m not going to hang out at Walmart looking for total strangers to correct.
Wouldn’t that have been nice when my kids were misbehaving toddlers? How many times did someone bang me over the head with “advice” on what I should be doing to keep my child from screaming like a cat with their tail on fire. No this is not random, anonymous condemnation that Paul is talking about. There’s way too much of that in this world already.
Here’s the responsibility: you who are godly.
Personally, I don’t like confrontation, and I’m not comfortable correcting people (except for my children and then I can lecture with gusto). With spiritual maturity comes a bit of responsibility–don’t go ballistic when others do wrong, but not to ignore it either. You see, I’d much rather look the other way and not have to say anything. This is much easier than getting involved and helping someone get back on the right track.
With this quick little description, Paul is talking about those who are actually trying to apply God’s word and His ways to life. He doesn’t say experts, and He doesn’t say church goers. These words are highlight the importance of sincere faith with obedience to back it up.
Hmm…correction isn’t for just anyone then, is it?
The how-to: confront with gentleness and humility.
How would our homes, families, and communities be different if we responded with gentle grace when others stomp on our last nerve? How could relationships grow if we get involved with humility, coming alongside to help, rather than looking down the nose and pointing the finger with judgment and a lecture?
We’ve all heard the cliché hate the sin, but love the sinner. There is great truth to this often quoted statement. Love for others reminds us to address problems with velvet steel rather than a chainsaw, ripping loose with impatient and angry words. Yikes, I am feeling the discomfort of too many frustrated tirades fired off at my kids. (Yes, they are sinners…)
I need to remember that gentleness is a fruit of the Spirit and is actually a demonstration of true strength under control.
The warning: be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.
When we’re in the right and someone else is clearly wrong, we need this oh-by-the-way warning. We are just as capable with making mistakes, creating problems, and downright sinning. Humbling thing, isn’t it?
This is why we need to correct with love and humility, understanding that we all struggle with sin.
The response: share each other’s burdens
This little instruction really changes the perspective on “dealing” with people who have sinned. Maybe we need to come down off our high I’m-not-the-one-with-the-problem horse, and be willing to help. In this passage, there is much more about how we handle the sins of others, rather than a license to condemn sin. (By the way, that’s God’s job, right?)
Don’t we all have the burden of temptation? Struggle with the consequences of our own issues? I don’t know about you, but I’m tempted to sin every day.
Every. Single. Day.
Standing firm and doing the right thing is hard, especially when you’ve worked up a heaping portion of I-want-it-my-way.
When we help one another stay on the right track, relationships grow strong and we are all better off.
What is your greatest temptation when someone else sins?