Thursday, February 21, 2013


The comment:
My problem is this; I feel the need to be very honest with [someone]. [This person's] belief (or lack thereof) and his status....are causing him to make a fool of himself. In a word, a hypocrite. I struggle with fear of saying such strong words to him, with saying something even more damaging than what he is doing to himself. I've never considered having to tell someone something so...raw. I don't know what his response to me would be, and I don't know what he would do if he agreed with me....I need some outside perspective.
There's obviously a whole lot more to this comment than the paragraph above, but I chose to leave a lot of it out for a few reasons. Essentially this person is asking how to handle a situation where another believer is doing something/living in a certain way that doesn't line up theologically with their beliefs. It begs the question: do you say something? And, if so, how?

It's a good question...but it's a hard question. Every situation is going to be really different and this one is particularly tricky given the circumstances. Honestly, I go back and forth on whether it's our place to ever call someone out on hypocrisy.

Because we're all hypocrites, to some degree. It immediately takes me to the verse of needing to take the log out of our own eye before attempting to remove the speck from someone else's eye. And if this person is a Bible scholar of sorts, I'm not sure that anything that you say to him is going to be enlightening in any sort of way. I fear it might only distance you from him, causing a chasm to form that doesn't need to be there. What would be the benefit of saying something? What results are you hoping to accomplish? Do you really think that confronting them in this manner is going to achieve those results?

So I know I haven't been in seminary for very long, but just in my three weeks of classes I've been overwhelmed by how much I don't know. I don't know enough about Scripture. I don't know anything about Greek and Hebrew and historical context and while, yes, you can read the Bible without a clear understanding of all of that and fully accept the Gospel, and glean a lot of truth... I'm way more hesitant to take firm stances on things that I think the Bible says without doing research on it first. I say all that because I think we need to be really cautious when we decide to 'call people out' on things we believe to be right or wrong--especially things that we don't necessarily have a clear understanding of.

Proceeding carefully when calling out 'sin' in others is vital (unless it's causing someone else harm- and even then, we should proceed carefully, but quickly). It isn't always our place. And, it isn't always up to us to determine what is sin and what isn't. There are things in my life that I feel like that I know are sin for me, but it doesn't mean that it's sin for everyone. I can't possibly expect everyone to adhere to my own guidelines, my own convictions, my own interpretations of what I believe scripture is saying about things. I think the moment we start living like is when we unknowingly invite self-righteousness and judgment to be our friends and suddenly we start thinking we're better than everyone else and that we have all the answers. I say this because this is what I've known a lot of my life...this is who I've been a lot of my life. As much as we desire absolutes, I fear that there will always be situations where things are trickier than how they appear, where our moral codes are challenged and what we think we've always known and accepted as right and wrong will be called into question.

Having a conversation with a friend about their life and things that they are processing through and wrestling with can be a really good thing...but to have a confrontation with a friend in a way that makes them feel like they are judged, that you think you have all the right answers, in a way that highlights their hypocrisy while you ignore your own....? I just think it's sketchy. I think there a better ways to handle it. I think that oftentimes we need to let God be the righteous judge, I think we need to pray that the Holy Spirit would be the One who convicts when we are unsure about things... and we need to trust Him to handle the areas of sin in each other's lives.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely think confrontation is necessary at times, but not in a way where we say, 'Hey, you hypocrite... get your life together, don't you know that you're being a moron and making terrible decisions?' And not that you'd ever be that harsh, but there's a lot going on beyond the surface that we sometimes forget about when all we see are the actions of someone. Our limited view doesn't enable us to know their hearts (no matter how close to them we are), to know what the real issue is, to know what the wounds truly are. If it's not a situation where someone has personally sinned against you, I'd really encourage you to approach this person as your friend... as someone you really love and care about, in a way that makes them know that you care infinitely more about who they are and how they are than you do about their actions.

In the end, you'll probably do what you feel like you need to do...but I'd urge you to back up every choice you make with Scripture. Dig deep into what it says. And remember that you're only spotless because of the blood of Christ. Remember that each day you screw up...and sometimes you probably do it knowing full well what you are doing, but, for whatever reason you decide not to care in that moment.

My point is that when we think it's our responsibility and duty to tell someone how much they are screwing up...sometimes we need to be willing to remember how much we are screwing up, and how much we need Jesus (as much as the other hypocrites). It's not always our responsibility to speak up, it's not always our place. We are all sinners, saved by grace.

Pray for discernment and wisdom...but sometimes I think that it's better to be quick to listen and slow to speak, especially in the instances when we feel the anxious need to speak.

Be a friend.
Not another to cast condemnation and judgment in someone's life.
Not another to throw a stone...

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