by Jen Bell
I don’t think I’m better than you, I just thought YOU were better than THAT!
We live in a very precarious time where absolutes line the highway like litter and tolerance isn’t very tolerant ... at least where biblical truth is concerned.
Most of us have lasting wounds from the shrapnel caused by a loved one’s defiant decision to walk away from God and pursue the world’s temptations and lusts. And then there is the damage from our OWN stupid decisions and the terrible realization of the pain we have caused.
But what are we to do when we see other people who claim to be Christ-followers living in contradiction? We wonder if we should act… maybe speak up… but we’re silenced by our own fear of rejection. We hold our tongue in the name of tolerance. It is much easier to rant on social media or to safe friends rather than face-to-face with the person in compromise. We are also perfectly aware of our own sinful heart, so the thought “who am I to judge?” renders us silent.
These excuses are all arrows in the hand of our relentless enemy.
Who is willing to gently restore the one in compromise as Galatians 6 commands? And who will speak into our own lives when we find ourselves in a pit of abuse or apathy or addiction or lust or self- abasement? When the Bible says, “Do not judge, lest you be judged”, it simply means don’t judge someone if you are guilty of the same issue.
Who is willing to call us out? Who will call us UP?
In the early days of my Christian walk, when I was just gaining traction and I was discovering a new way to live, people spoke the truth in love.
I got called out. And I got called UP.
It did not feel like love at first. But as the words sunk in and the intentions were made clear, I grew. And I began to view those rare people as those who truly cared. And it still rings true. There are times I make or don’t make a certain decision based on what others might think, because contrary to popular belief, it DOES matter!
Our reputations are all about Who we represent.
As Believers, we represent Christ.
Is His death worthy of us turning our back on our comfort zone or desire to be adored? Is it worthy of us being teachable when others do so on our behalf?
What went wrong?
Enter popular culture. We are so drawn to the “cool” kids, to those who control the airwaves and fill our movie screens. We are tempted to worship them because they possess everything we think we want. But is it working for them? Are they living fulfilled lives? Is there tangible evidence that what they are selling actually delivers?
I don’t think so.
We were not meant to worship other humans, and we were certainly not created to be worshipped.
We were made to worship Jesus Christ: the Way, the Truth and the Life.
It throws everything off kilter when we lose sight of our place in Creation. As believers in Christ, we believe that He died so that we could live. We hold onto the Source and know that no matter what, no matter how difficult things get, even if faced with death itself, we have a higher call.
Our future is heaven.
This fosters eternal perspective and we now walk to the beat of a different drum.
Herein lies the conundrum.
If we are mandated to speak the truth in love, why are we not hearing many loving truths these days? I’m usually hearing nothing. Silence. Deafening defeated silence.
Fear sounds like that.
But I do hear the thoughts. They are louder than the voices. People are exiting the church and never coming back. We usually blame hypocrisy, (which, by the way, would be much less prevalent if we would call one another up.) We also blame lack of relevance. Sometimes true, but if we stick to the truths in the Scripture, they are absolutely timeless… and they work.
I think it has much more to do with the fact that folks aren’t seeing anything different about our lives… so why bother?
Why get involved with something that will demand something of me when I see little relevance in most of the lives of the people there?
They look JUST LIKE ME. And I’m dying over here!
Let’s get honest and teachable. If you see a speck in someone’s eye, the log in yours doesn’t require you to let that speck remain in that person’s eye forever as they become blind to how life would be without that blind spot.
Just make sure you’re not a hypocrite first.
Then proceed to gently help them work it out.
This does not mean that we make a show of their sin. Or parade around in our own “speckless” arrogance or pride. We are to be broken with them. We are standing beside them, prayerfully supporting them, willing to do whatever is required to break the stronghold.
The goal is always reconciliation and restoration.
And when your speck is giving you double vision, allow someone you trust to return the favor. Show gratitude for their willingness to do so.
It’s really not a deep concept. But it weighs a ton.
The cost is obvious in our sweaty hands and quivery voice when we have to say a hard thing to someone who might peace out… or say something negative about us.
I say, let them.
Let them feel the weight of distance from those who have light. Let them realize the emptiness of a life lived separate from real truth. This could be the catalyst that finally brings them home.
Practically, this stuff is just plain hard. It is messy. It hurts. We feel that we have no voice because we will never be perfect. We lose sight of what love really is.
True love is entering in.
Walk in a life devoted and you will have much more to say and the voice to say it. People will ask you for your opinion and you will be able to respond with humble authority because of a life lived for someone Else.
In gentleness and love, say it…
TO them, not ABOUT them.
Call them up.
But by all means, please don’t cheapen grace.
Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you;? reprove a wise man, and he will love you. – Proverbs 9:7-8
...so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ. – Ephesians 4:14-15
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but you do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. – Matthew 7:3-5
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. – Matthew 18:15-17
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:1-2
A few things to remember about Accountability
- Be prayerful before, during, and after any confrontation.
- Remember the goal: Restoration.
- Always have a spirit of gentleness.
- Don’t go looking for trouble. Only enter into this process when God calls you to, usually biblical measures.
- You must have a relationship with the person you are entering into the difficult conversation with and be willing to walk with them over the long haul or get them the help they will need. If not, hold your tongue.
- Don’t share the details with people outside the situation. You may ask for prayer support but keep it confidential.
- Do not expect a non-believer to be held accountable for their views and actions. Love them where they are and be a healthy example of a non-hypocritical Christian.
- If you are met with aggression, back off and give the person space. Communicate your heart to them and let them know your goal is to restore them to health.