I’m finally getting around to blogging about something that’s been on my mind for a couple of weeks. There have been a couple of situations relatively recently which have been catalyst for me considering these things. The first question is, what do you do when someone you know commits a significant sin? I’m thinking about cases where the person isn’t totally apathetic, but rather where they know they’ve sinned and know they shouldn’t have. What do you do? Do you come down on them and lecture them about how bad it was and how you can’t believe that they did that and how they must do better in the future? Does that really help? I mean, they already know they shouldn’t have done whatever it was, and feel guilty about it, so does being harsh after the fact do any good? I don’t know. How about comforting them? They may feel bad and guilty and be beating themselves up over the whole situation, so should you just put your arm around them and say, “It’s not the end of the world; God still loves you.” etc.? Is that helpful, or does it make them more likely to fall into the same sin again?
While this question is one that we will almost certainly face at some point, and therefore should think about it, it isn’t the question I want to focus on. I actually want to use the difficulty of that question to support a point: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” as the saying goes. In one of the recent situation, of friend of mine sinned. When I found out about this, I was upset at this person, but I was also upset at myself for not having tried to do anything to stop it. You see, I had been with this person before hand, and I could see that things weren’t going in a good direction. Now true, I didn’t really think that this person was going to have the opportunity to fall into sin, but I didn’t do or say anything when I probably should have anyway.
In the movie “Search for the Holy Grail”, there is a scene where Sir Galahad “the chaste” wanders into the Castle Anthrax. Though he doesn’t know it until he is inside, the castle is occupied only by a host of attractive, young, *lonely* maidens. At first he is very uneasy in the situation, being very concerned about keeping his chastity. However after a while he begins to warm up to the idea of being a special guest there. Fortunately, it is right at this time that Sir Lancelot and his men burst into the scene to rescue Sir Galahad, who by this point is fighting their help. The scene is comical, watching this knight in full armor saying, “Stand back foul temptress!” with sword drawn at a seemingly harmless young lady. Later on though, I thought, “There’s some truth in this isn’t there?”
Now I’m not saying women are evil (though I have said for a long time that women are the biggest danger for guys, and conversely men are the biggest danger for women). But I think that perhaps this scene gives a picture of what one aspect of Christian community should look like. That is us fighting for one another, to help each other keep from sin before we fall into it. I know that there have been times that if I had been in the wrong situation or had the opportunity, I probably would have sinned in certain bigger ways myself. While I might not have liked it and resisted at the time, I would have been thankful afterwards for some friend trying to keep me from sin. I hope now that the friends in my life will help keep me from sin, and I want to try and do better myself to help others. Will you join me in my quest?
Now while I wish everyone were mature enough to understand this, and that this wouldn’t have to be said, I do feel the need to clarify and define some balance. Fighting for each other doesn’t mean that you try to keep everyone from every sin as you see it. There is still gray area, and you must have discernment. You may caution people in these situations, but leave room for them to be as well. The sins I am thinking of are the bigger, less questionable ones such as hatred, dissension, drunkenness, sexual immorality, etc. The other thing is you have to be discerning about how far to go as well. While we are all often resistive to correction and/or warnings at first, there will be times when a person will flatly refuse to heed warnings. You must exercise discernment here, understanding how much fighting for that person is reasonable, and at what point you let them go.