When Sin Gets in the Way
Bible Reading: John 8:1-11
“Neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:11, NIV
“I know we're supposed to love people where they are,” Gabriella said. “But what about Christians who live a sinful lifestyle? I have a friend who’s gone off the deep end. She doesn’t come to church anymore, and I don’t even want to know what she does with her new friends. How can I love her?”
Good question. Love provides what people need and protects them from harm. Disobedient Christians need to be lovingly confronted with their disobedience --with the goal of protecting them from the consequences of their wrong behavior. Suppose you have a Christian friend at school who is sleeping with her boyfriend. She needs someone to lovingly say, “God is pure, and the Bible clearly says that sex outside of marriage is wrong. So I challenge you to stop sleeping with him.” She might not want to hear it, but you are acting in your friend’s best interest. Love attempts to protect her from possible pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and the burden of regret in a future marriage.
Some people call this “tough love”--risking a relationship in order to tum a fellow Christian away from sin. You do people no favors by blowing off their behavior in order to spare their feelings or maintain your relationship. They are in much greater danger if they continue in the wrong direction. Exercising love comes with no guarantees that your efforts will be well-received. You can only do your best to provide for their good and protect them from harm. How they respond is up to them and God.
“I have a lot of non-Christian friends whose values and behaviors conflict with mine,” Doug shared. “How can I love them when we don’t agree morally?”
Another good question. You have to separate the person from his or her sinful behavior. Unbelievers have genuine physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. As you have opportunities, provide for their needs without compromising your faith. Then share Christ with them, seeking to protect them from the ultimate harm they face: an eternity without God.
Let’s say, for example, you have a non-Christian friend at school who is openly racist. As much as his lifestyle might tum you off, he is a person for whom Christ died. He isn’t headed for hell because he is racist; his behavior is a symptom of his need for Christ. Look for ways to be a positive influence and encouragement to him. Pray that God will give you opportunities that will help him ditch sin and tum his heart to Christ.
REFLECT: Do you know any Christians who aren’t walking close to God? What can you do to love them?
PRAY: Ask God for wisdom to help you love the tough cases in your life.
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