What are we going to do? There’s someone in the church sinning! Do I ignore it? Who else knows? I’ve got to call ____.
Too often this goes through the minds of well-meaning Christian folks when sin is exposed in one of the members. Really, you’re not alone if this train of thought comes roaring through your mind on the verge of derailment. It goes through mine too. For some reason, in me it causes an awkwardness between me and that person. I know I’m not the only one.
I had a talk with a team in our church about his very issue. We say “God’s not sitting on the throne with a baseball bat ready to bash you in the head every time you screw up”. But we fail to finish the statement with “but I AM!” We are so ready to go in for the kill, when God has already dealt with it. We need to be ready to help those who are willing to make a change in their life.
Here are some thoughts on how to deal with someone who has been caught in or has confessed sin.
They are much like you.
1Cor 10:13 (Amplified – so read LOUD for effect) For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not [a]adjusted and[b]adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to [c]a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.
Yeah. You have been tempted to have sex with someone you weren’t married to. We all have. They were. You’ve been. I’ve been. You or I may have actually fallen to that temptation. You and that person whose sin that we somehow know about are the same in one way or another. They either didn’t take the way out like you may have, or sinned more recently than you did.
If their sin is uncovered, they know they sinned
Enough rebuking someone who has repented and the Lord has already rebuked. They don’t need a peer’s rebuke. They need a peer to pick them back up, and help steer them away from doing what they did again. They know they screwed up royally. They know about the consequences, and most who have been humbled by exposed sin aren’t running from them. They need you to cry with them, listen to them, and help them get it right.
They aren’t asking for you to justify what they did
Seriously, don’t tell someone that’s remorseful and repentant for an embarrassing sin that you don’t blame them for doing it. Let them own up to it. Its part of repentance. Knowing beyond a shadow of doubt that what we did was wrong is part of the change!
They need to know they can trust you
This is the biggest point I have. Run your mouth about other people’s secrets to that person, why would they share ANYTHING with you? I hear people in leadership at churches everywhere doing this. They think they are doing something good by telling other leaders what sin someone in the church is dealing with. If you do this, I don’t trust you. Chances are, nobody else does either. Shut your mouth. Be trustworthy of a soul’s hurts, fears, failures, and sins.
If you can be trusted, you can help! If you can’t be trusted, you will hurt.
Maybe they don’t want anything from you but prayer
You may not be the person they are comfortable opening their heart up to. That’s ok! They need you to pray for their strength and restoration. Pray that a full repentance comes about. Pray for mercy not only from God but from those who they have hurt in their sin.
Also there are always going to be those who don’t want to turn from their sin, and want a church body to either overlook or condone what they do. These people are everywhere. They minimize what they did and have NO remorse for what they did. You may even be doing everything by the book to help them. Because they want a stamp of approval on what they do, they will accuse you of being mean and judgmental anyway. Get used to it. This is how society is dealing with their “anything goes” mentality. Pride comes before destruction. Pray for them. It’s going to hurt them really bad when their pride destroys their life. Be there ready to pick up the pieces, point them to the Cross, and leave the “I told you so” at the door.
If someone wants to do better, help them!
Next post – The value of an accountability structure.