Dealing with Sin in Others

If my friend lies to me, who has he sinned against? Surely it is against God and not me. For that sin my friend will have to answer to God Himself. So, if my friend, by lying to me, has earned the wrath of God, what good is it for me to add my own wrath? It would be like adding a drop of water to an ocean.

Now, that is not to say that he does not still suffer the consequence of sin in that he has lost my trust. However, I should not be angry at him. Instead, I should first look to myself to see if I have done something to cause him to fear telling me the truth. If I can honestly find nothing in me which would encourage him to lie then I must ask him for help in this matter because I must remember to first remove the plank from my own eye before I can remove the speck from my friends. If it turns out that I have been harsh, over-bearing, or intimidating to my friend then I can now remove the plank from my eye by working on being a better friend. However, if my friend says the lie came out of his own selfishness or deceit, then I am now in a place to lovingly correct him on this behavior and remove the speck from his eye.

So should we then thank those who insult or offend us while sinning against God? What does God have to say about this?

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you, don’t resist him who is evil; but whoever strikes you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. ” (Matthew 5:38-39)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you, that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:43-45)

I do want to draw a line in the sand, however. In the verse about “turning the other cheek” it should be understood that, at the time, it was a relatively common practice to insult someone by giving them a backhanded slap to the side of the face. This was not intended as a real threat of violence. Therefore, I am not advocating that people allow themselves to be violently abused by another without defending themselves.

There are consequences to most sin built into the laws of this country and into the nature of mankind. Allow God’s wrath and the natural consequences of sin to do their work in a person’s life. In most cases this should be enough. But if not, then approach your brother or sister in Christ out of love and concern if they are sinning, not out of judgment or wrath.

About Michael Wigle

I am a servant of Christ who is married and has two children and one grandchild. For employment, I am the IT Manager and the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired. I also have a wide variety of interests from economics to politics to caving.
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