What do you do when you know a friend or loved one is doing something self-destructive and/or something that will hurt others?
If you’re like me, your preference would be to do nothing at all.
Well, because you have a pretty strong feeling about how that conversation is going to go. True, you hope your concern will be well received. But, you know there’s also a danger that just bringing it up will make the person defensive or angry.
Paul guided his original readers and us to—hate sin, but love sinners. Confront sin with humility and love. Forgive and restore repentant sinners.
In 1 Corinthians 5, he challenged the believers to confront a man who was deliberately living in sin without guilt. And as Paul put it:
I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you—something that even pagans don’t do. I am told that a man in your church is living in sin with his stepmother. You are so proud of yourselves, but you should be mourning in sorrow and shame.1 Corinthians 5:1–2
They may have simply been proud of their “tolerance” but Paul said it was time to confront the sin because…
“a little yeast that spreads through the whole batch of dough?”1 Corinthians 5:6b
Ignoring the harm of sin would have continued to damage him and others.
Now, in his second letter to the church in Corinth, Paul readdresses the situation with these words:
I am not overstating it when I say that the man who caused all the trouble hurt all of you more than he hurt me. Most of you opposed him, and that was punishment enough.2 Corinthians 2:5–6
The purpose of confronting sin is not to “call the person out” or simply make them feel like an inferior believer. We’re all sinners in need of God’s grace and forgiveness, which is why confrontation needs to be handled with gentleness and humility.
Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise, he may be overcome by discouragement. So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him.1 Corinthians 2:7–8
Because the goal of confrontation is repentance, forgiveness, restoration, and love.
May God give us all the courage to confront sin when necessary and the humility to approach each other with love and respect.
A Prayer for the Courage to Confront Sin
with Humility and Love
Father, You want so very much for us. Because You love us so much, You sent Jesus to die for our sins. Because You want us to live with peace and joy, You told us Your will for us . . . a list of commands that will bless us and make our lives better. But we are foolish and stubborn. We listen to the enemy’s lies through the influence of others and we think we know better. Please forgive us.
Please give me all I need to trust and obey Your will. Please give me the courage to speak Your truth with humility and love. Please help me confront my loved ones with a gentleness that lets them know that I’m confronting sin because I love them . . . because I know the blessing of walking in Your grace, mercy, and love. I know I am a sinner in need of Your forgiveness and I have experienced the blessing of that forgiveness and healing grace.
Father, I pray that Your church will be a place where all sinners feel free to come together to worship You. Where we repent and honestly admit our need for Your forgiveness. Where we lift up Jesus and His power to change our lives. Where we realize that You do not ignore or excuse our sin but will forgive us when we repent, restore when we humbly surrender in faith, and help us become more and more like Your Son and our Savior, Jesus. It’s in His name, I pray. Amen.
Friend, it’s so important that we in the church are loving and accepting. We don’t want to share the message that we think we are without sin or less sinful than others. The important truth from Paul’s words is that sin hurts everyone it touches. It hurts the sinner and it hurts everyone affected by its consequences. That’s why we are called to lovingly encourage everyone to repent that they might receive forgiveness, restoration, with God’s help experience the joy and peace of living and loving like Jesus.
On today’s note write:
With God’s help, I will courageously confront sin in me and humbly and lovingly in others.
May God bless you today with goodness, grace, mercy, and love.
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