My friend told me he is gay. I love him dearly but he wants me to celebrate him coming out. What should I do?
My sister wants to move in with her boyfriend. How do I tell her that’s not a good idea?
My cousin swears and takes God’s Name in vain all the time. How do I tell him it bothers me?
My friend gets drunk every weekend and hooks up with strangers. How do I tell her she is worth so much more?
Called to Love
If you have ever struggled with discerning whether you should speak truth in love or remain silent in fear of turning someone away from God, you are not alone.
We are striving to be more like Jesus, and we all know people who live their lives in a way that is not pleasing to Him. Knowing His Heart can give us peace and confidence in His truth and allow us to be better examples of His love to everyone we love.
We can come to know His Heart by coming to know Him.
Every Sin Has a Backstory
Have you ever tried to watch a TV show from the middle? Started on season 4, episode 7? Have you ever begun a movie halfway through? Read the end of a book but not the beginning or middle?
Starting anything in the middle leaves us with an incomplete picture and missing information.
We all sin because we think it will make us happy. So in these instances, the missing information is why someone thinks their sin will make them happy.
What life circumstances or events have led them to the belief that immoral choices and behaviors will give them what their hearts desire? Do they even know they are behaving in a way that is not pleasing to God?
In these moments, two reactions on opposite ends of the spectrum seem to be common:
- It does not matter what they know or have lived because sin is sin and it needs to be called out.
- I cannot judge their behavior because they have had a rough life and do not need me scolding them about their choices.
But we are called to be like Jesus. So what does that mean when Jesus Himself responded to sin so many different ways?
Jesus’ Response to Sin
Two instances in the life of Christ come to mind.
The first one is the story of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). After saving her life from condemnation, Jesus simply tells the woman to go and sin no more.
The second one is the story of Jesus in the temple (Matthew 21:12-17). Jesus overturns tables and benches and drives people out of the temple.
These are very different reactions to sin. They both reveal love and truth, but they don’t really give insight as to how we should react to sin. Should we simply tell our loved ones to sin no more? Should we walk away because we are sinners, too, like the scribes and pharisees ready to stone the adulteress? Or should we call them out, overturn tables, and rightfully defend God’s honor?
Maybe the information Jesus had dictated His response.
I cannot speak to what Jesus was thinking, but maybe He knew the woman in adultery had become enslaved to this life (of adultery) because she was seeking love and acceptance. Another possibility is that she thought it was the only way to provide for her needs or the needs of her family. He did not need to explain to her why adultery was wrong, so He didn’t. He simply revealed the love of God through honoring her, keeping her from being stoned, and not scolding her as she had already experienced.
As for the money changers in the temple, He was speaking to the very people who went around stoning and punishing people for not obeying God’s law. Here they were disobeying that same law they so pridefully carried out in God’s house. Jesus, firmly reminded them that God’s house is a house of prayer. They needed this kind of intense awakening.
Case By Case
Love is relational. You do not need to know the backstory of every sin to love the sinner the way they need to be loved. You just need to know there is one. We were created to love and be loved. When we refuse God’s love, or if no one has revealed it to us, we seek it elsewhere. We do not always realize immediately that fulfillment cannot be found in a life of sin.
Our role is to reveal God’s love to them. How we do that?
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Love vs. Love
There are people who think that standing on a mountain top calling people out for their sins is the most loving thing to do for society.
There are also people who think letting people discover for themselves what sin is and staying out of their business is the best thing to do.
Who’s to say what is the right way? Well, Jesus is. Jesus calls us into relationship with Him, and through that relationship we can know His Heart and truly love our neighbor.
No More Thoughts and Prayers?
Through knowing the Person of Jesus, we can come to know His Heart, how He loves, and share who He is with those in our lives. I have heard it said, “No more thoughts and prayers! We need to take action.”
Oswald Chambers eloquently says, “God does not exist to answer our prayers, but by our prayers we come to discern the mind of God.”
Prayer is how we come to know Jesus. Only through a relationship with God, that we come to experience through prayer, can we know what actions and words reveal who He made us to be. We cannot fill an empty glass with another empty glass. By filling our hearts with the love of Christ and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, He will love through us.
Go Make Disciples
Let’s not be afraid. Scripture calls us to be courageous.
Sometimes we are too harsh in revealing God’s love. If that is the case, seek forgiveness.
If we do not feel bold enough to speak truth, seek confidence in His truth:
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. -1 John 4:18
What helps you discern how to best respond like Christ in the face of sin? What has worked in the past?Every Sin Has a Backstory #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Mary Morasso graduated from Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, MI with a bachelor’s in Pastoral Theology. She taught high school Theology for several years but stepped down after giving birth to her daughter, Daniella. There is nothing she loves more than being a mom but she also loves to craft, read, write, sell homes as a realtor, and spend time with family.