Jesus went into the temple complex and drove out all those buying and selling in the temple. He overturned the money changers’ tables and the chairs of those selling doves. And He said to them, “It is written, My house will be called a house of prayer. But you are making it a den of thieves!” Matthew 21:12-13
Jesus told the truth about people and situations. He pointed out the greed of the people selling doves in the temple. He confronted people with their sins and gave them opportunities to repent. Rather than looking the other way and pretending that these people were trying their best to serve God, He pointed out their errors. Yet, he was not without mercy.
He was merciful to people caught in the act of adultery and to the thief dying on the cross, but he did not try to simply hide their sins or wrongdoing. Mercy was poured out generously to those willing to change and admit their wrong doing.
Too often as Christians we take sin and hide it under a rug. We enable people to continue in their addictions because we do not want to unkind. Let’s look at a few scenarios.
Scenario 1: We tell the hurting wife to pray for the husband who has had a little indiscretion. Instead we should call the indiscretion by its proper name, adultery. We should advise the woman to address the situation through counseling and hold her husband accountable for proper conduct. Rather than just ending the marriage, she should first attempt to reconcile it, but that doesn’t mean withholding needed consequences. A counselor would be able to advise in this situation so that the wife can respond appropriately without enabling her husband. Mercy can and should be shown to a husband who repents. Godly counsel is vital to maintaining the proper balance here. (This same scenario could be reversed. Many wives commit adultery and husbands must use wisdom for handling the situation.)
Scenario 2: A parent catches a teen sneaking out the window at night or finds drugs in the teen’s bedroom. Some may be quick to say, “All teens are bound to mess up a little.” Instead, the situation should be addressed, not ignored. Consequences fitting the crime should be administered. (Again, balance is needed so that the punishment is not too heavy or too light.) The parent should also make a point of spending time with the teen in positive ways so that the attention they are showing the teen positive, as well as negative, attention. Depending on the severity of the problem, professional intervention may be needed, especially for a drug problem.
Scenario 3: Someone deliberately hurts us. They lie about us, demean our character, and seek to destroy us. This person may be a jealous coworker, a family member, or some other relation. Rather than allowing the person to yell at us or destroy us, we should take steps to protect ourselves and admit the truth about the situation. Although God commands us to forgive others, He does not want us to lie about the situation and pretend that nothing is wrong. This doesn’t mean that we have to publicly berate the person, but it does mean that we should seek to handle the situation in an honest manner. Smiling as the person abuses us only enables the person to continue in their behavior. It does not force them to face the consequences they need to make changes in their behavior.
In summary, God does not lie to us and tell us we are without fault. He tells us that our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). Yet, he offers mercy and grace to those willing to repent. When we are willing to change our behavior, He offers us the help we need to make those changes.
We should follow God’s example and look at the world realistically and honestly. Rather than pretending a problem doesn’t exist in a misguided effort to be holy, we should examine the problem and prayerfully consider a godly response.
- Jesus and Being Nice (christcenteredteaching.wordpress.com)