Last week we talked about steps 1 and 2 of the model Jesus provided on HOW to love people when He walked the earth:
1) Build the relationship.
2) Meet the need.
Those are the easy ones. Step 3 can be the most challenging.
3) Address the Sin. This is the tricky part of the equation. We live in a society where we’re made to believe that “anything goes.” Everyone gets to decide their own truth, so they tell us. What’s right for you isn’t right for me, they tell us. We are considered by many to be haters or judgmental if we even think about expressing our opinion. If we dare to speak out on social media about biblical truth, we are “canceled,” or our message is labeled as hate speech.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, some of this bad press is well deserved. Often our tendency as Christians is to go directly to calling out the sin. When we do this, it becomes more about our own self-righteousness and less about concern for the other person. It helps me to remember that it is the job of the Holy Spirit to convict someone of their sin, not mine.
After Jesus saved a woman caught in the act of adultery, He told her, “now go and sin no more” (John 8:11). He also told a young man who was healed at the Pool of Bethesda to stop sinning (John 5:14). Wasn’t that cruel for Jesus to tell them to stop sinning? No, it wasn’t. He understood the consequences of their actions. He healed them from their physical ailments, but they had to choose to stop bringing more pain on themselves.
The bottom line is that speaking the truth in a kind, respectful way IS an act of love. Our culture is spiraling deeper and deeper into hopelessness and despair. In a culture that believes that it doesn’t matter “who you love,” this is a difficult position to take.
It’s not kind to allow people to suffer from the consequences of bad choices without offering them hope, help, and the truth. The apostle Paul said, “You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’—but not everything is good for you. You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’—but not everything is beneficial.”
God, in his infinite wisdom, gave us free will to make any choice we would like, but He also provided boundaries to show us which choices are in our best interest. As believers in Jesus, we have an obligation to speak truth to our friends and family whose poor choices are causing chaos in their lives and those around them.
We don’t need to be rude or abrasive, but we can’t ignore the consequences of destructive behavior, either. Let’s show love and respect for everyone, regardless of who they are, what they believe, or how they act.