"Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves."
- Romans 14:22 NIV
When I was in my late teens, I began a relationship with my high school sweetheart that lasted for three years. For the first couple of years, my family approved of the relationship, and even encouraged it. But as the relationship became an unhealthy one, my family began to voice their disapproval. Things eventually got so bad, that every time my boyfriend called our house, my mother would hang up on him. I became frustrated and angry, and I confronted my mom about the matter, to no avail. It wasn't until much later that I was able to see the courage and the caring behind my mother's actions, as well as the wisdom.
There are times when God expects us to withhold our approval, so that others may know where we stand. Withholding our approval may not make a difference, but then it may be the ONLY thing that makes a difference. When we withhold our approval as an act of obedience to God's will, the Lord will back us up somehow, and He will reward us, no matter how others respond. The Scriptures tell us: "You must speak My words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious." (Ezekiel 2:7 NIV) Notice that the Lord didn't say, "They're not going to listen to you, so don't bother!" No, He said that there are times when we need to confront people about their misconduct, no matter how they respond. This doesn't mean that we should go around telling everyone what we think they are doing wrong. It means that when we see someone--especially someone close to us--walking down the wrong path, we should earnestly seek God about whether or not we should confront them about it. If we don't have peace in our hearts about remaining silent, then we must ask the Lord to give us the right words at the right time. And we must remind ourselves that God will never expect us to do something that He will not equip us to do.
After my boyfriend and I broke up those many years ago, I was stunned to find out that some of my friends and loved ones were thrilled. In many cases, I had no idea that they disapproved of the relationship, and it hurt me deeply that they never told me about their true feelings. I remember thinking, "Why didn't you have enough guts to tell me the truth? I thought you cared about me." And Scripture bears this out when it says, "Better is open rebuke than hidden love." (Proverbs 27:5 NIV) And, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy." (Proverbs 27:6 NASB) We have to realize that our loved ones are loving us, and being faithful to us, when they tell us the truth about our behavior, and that those who conceal the truth from us are being deceitful. Even if the truth hurts us, God says that we are better off, than if we were spared from the truth that could save us and set us free. If we get offended when others try to confront us for our good , we will only be hurting ourselves. We need to have an attitude like David's, which says: "Let a righteous man strike me--it is a kindness; let him rebuke me--it is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it." (Psalm 141:5 NIV)
Jesus said: "Pay attention and always be on your guard [looking out for one another]. If your brother sins (misses the mark), solemnly tell him so and reprove him, and if he repents (feels sorry for having sinned), forgive him." (Luke 17:3 AMP) Too many people, even Christians, have the attitude today that says, "I don't want to get involved. Let them do what they want. I don't care!" But the Lord says that we should always be "looking out for one another," and that we should not turn our backs on those who need correction. If we are being led by God's Spirit when we correct others, we will do it in a spirit of love. Scripture says: "Let our lives lovingly express truth [in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly]." (Ephesians 4:15 AMP) We are not "expressing the truth in all things" when we are thinking to ourselves, "I think you are making a big mistake, but that's not my problem!" Romans 14:22 (NIV) says, "Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves." In the Lord's eyes, giving our approval to something is a powerful thing, and we will be held accountable for it. We have to keep in mind that our silence in a situation may be seen as approval, in the sight of God and others. It's my prayer that from this day forward, you may have a new awareness of the privilege and the power of your approval!
Prayer: Lord, I ask that by Your Spirit, You teach me when to give my approval, and when to withhold it. When you lead me to voice my disapproval, let me see these situations as opportunities to minister Your life-changing truth. Thank You that as I obey You in this area, You will use me to help others discover the peace, joy, and victory that are only found in Christ!
- J. M. Farro