The Proper and Improper Ways To Address Another Person’s Sin
I have first hand knowledge of a young lady who, as an unmarried teen, got pregnant. The church she attended “called her out” on this sin and made her stand before the congregation and apologize and ask for forgiveness. I would bet that none of the “gossipers” or “slanderers” or “liars” in that the church were ever forced to stand before the congregation and apologize and seek forgiveness, especially those who perhaps “gossiped” about this young girl. Now if that young lady had chosen to do that of her own volition and conviction that’s fine, but to be called out before the entire congregation I believe was wrong. You might say, well Paul called out the man who was in the incestuous relationship. Yes, but remember, Paul was really calling out the entire church because of their acceptance of this man’s sin.
The improper way is the way of the Pharisee. Dragging the woman who committed adultery out into the streets to be publicly stoned. Now we don’t condone literally “stoning” someone, but Christians have their own way of “stoning” those who are caught in a sin. Here are some of the stones that Christians throw:
- The stone of unforgiveness. (Matthew 6:14-15) We say we forgive, but we just can’t let it go. We carry on and on and gossip to others about what the offender has done and we can’t find it in our hearts to forgive them. To forgive means to “give up and to keep no longer.”
- The stone of hatred. (1 John 3:15) Some have such strong hatred for others that we see it manifested in angry harmful words and actions. They will post on the internet, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs all the vitriolic venom that Satan has put in their heart and it comes out through their mouth and their finger tips as they type out the words of hatred.
- The stone of condemnation. (Luke 6:37) Rather than allow the Holy Spirit to do His work of conviction, which is far more effective, we want to do our work of condemnation. If the Son of God didn’t come into the world to condemn, what gives us the right to condemn?!
- The stone of judgment. (Luke 6:37) You can be certain that you will be judged with the same judgment you give to others.
- The stone of superiority. (1 Corinthians 10:12). Somehow we think “I would never do that.” Remember whatever measure we use to judge, we will be measured with also. “For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging others is the standard by which you will be judged.” Tweet This (Matthew 7:2)
So the improper way of addressing another person’s sin (especially a believer) is with unforgiveness, hatred, condemnation, judgment, and arrogance or superiority.
We shouldn’t ignore a brother or sisters sin because when we do, it lends tacit approval to their error. But we must handle it in the proper manner. I believe Jesus gave us that example. When Jesus dealt with the woman who was taken in adultery, He knew a better way to handle it than the way of the Pharisees. Here is the “better way” and the proper way to address someone else’s sin.
- The way of restoration (Galatians 6:1-3) bringing back to its original state
- The way of forgiveness – Turning loose of the bitterness and anger. Releasing it to God.
- The way of compassion – Allowing love to dominate our life!
- The way of mercy – This is kindness or good will toward the afflicted that is joined with a desire to help them. Who do you want to help?
- The way of grace – Grace is there to help…not harm!
- The way of treating others the way we would like to be treated (Luke 6:31)
- The way of not excusing or condoning the sin, but also not condemning the person (John 8:11). We condemn by gossip, talking behind the backs of others, by holding “ill will” toward others. We condemn by not forgiving and shunning those who have sinned. This isn’t God’s way. That is the “religious” way. That is the Pharisaical way.
- The way of giving up our rights to God, because it allows us to operate in freedom and love. As long as we hold on to those rights then we will hold on to the unforgiveness, resentment, and anger.
There is a proper and improper way to address the sins of others. But we must be careful that we aren’t acting in the role of the Pharisee but in the role of a disciple. I have been a Pharisee! I am so sorry for the hurt I have caused people. When we realize how much grace and mercy we need then we will extend that to others. This is true humility. Tweet This
Frank Viola does an excellent job of explaining “How to (NOT) Correct Another Christian.” I recommend that you also read his insightful post!