My husband, Joe, and I were dining out with a Christian couple when suddenly, the wife confessed that she had been watching a sleazy TV talk show. I was appalled, because this lady has always been a woman of prayer and great faith. And I promptly, but gently, reminded her of how this kind of "sloppy living" could hinder her prayers and her fellowship with the Lord. At that point, the husband confessed that he was in the habit of listening to music that contained offensive lyrics. He sounded apologetic, but he also made it clear that he had no intention of changing his listening habits.
The next morning, during my devotional time with the Lord, I asked Him how He felt about the way I admonished this Christian couple the night before. My heart was grieved, because I thought I might have offended God by calling attention to their questionable habits. It was then that the Lord led me to a godly teaching about Gideon in the Old Testament. God chose Gideon to lead His people in battle against their enemies, with the Lord promising them certain victory, even though they would be grossly outnumbered. But first, God tested Gideon's faith and commitment by giving him a tough assignment that had to be carried out before their deliverance. The Lord instructed Gideon to tear down the altar to a pagan god, and the idol beside it, that his own father had set up. Even though Gideon feared retaliation from his loved ones and the townspeople, he trusted the Lord to protect him. As a result, Gideon was able to save himself, his family, and his countrymen from the hands of their enemies.
The Bible says: "Brothers if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted." (Galatians 6:1 NIV) The Amplified Bible puts it this way: "Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also." Those of us who have made a quality commitment to live for Christ have a responsibility to confront others with their sin, as we are led by God's Spirit to do so.
I don't take this kind of confrontation lightly, and I often don't feel very comfortable doing it. Many times, I remain silent instead of confronting others with their un-Christlike behavior, and I just pray for them. When I do feel the Holy Spirit prompting me to reprove the offender, I try to say a brief and silent prayer that He will help me to "speak the truth in love." (Ephesians 4:15) But the bottom line is this - I would rather risk offending people, than offending God. The Lord longs for us to recognize and resist the destructive nature of sin, and to react with righteous indignation when it rears its ugly head in our presence. As long as we do this in gentleness and humility, we can be sure that, no matter how the confronted person reacts, we will be richly rewarded by a grateful God.
Just as the sin of Gideon's loved ones prevented them from receiving the divine deliverance they longed for, the sin of our own loved ones can keep them from receiving the blessings they need and desire most. May we always love them enough to do the hard work of confronting them, as the Lord leads us to!
Prayer: Lord, when I'm faced with the flagrant sin of those around me, make me sensitive and obedient to Your Spirit's leading, so that I'll know how to respond each and every time. Teach me how to "speak the truth in love," and to confront others with a humble and gentle spirit. Thank You that my faithfulness will save, not only me - but my loved ones, too!
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