Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Objections to Fraternal Correction

For the wages of sin is death.
Romans 6:23

But this makes me happy, why can't you be happy for me?

We all love pizza, yes? Ever start to feel full, but continued to eat it because it was just so good? Enjoy having that little extra? Did you enjoy it later on? As all the extra, unnecessary salt and grease continued through your system? Would you be happy for a friend overindulging, knowing that he's going to make himself sick? Would you provide alcohol for your AA friend? Encourage a friend to go to Vegas and gamble away his rent and groceries because he likes a thrill? If your answer is yes to the last two, would it still be if the law held you responsible for anything that the friend did while drunk, if you were held financially responsible for the rent of the gambler?
Just as I cannot be happy for a friend who's throwing away his physical life - be it from overindulgence, drugs, gambling, bad company, etc – I cannot be happy when he's throwing away his spiritual life. How could I? The living can only suffer until death calls them, but the soul goes on for eternity.
I can't be happy for you when you do something that will send you to Hell, no matter how good it makes you feel for the present moment.
Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam
in thy own eye, and then shalt thou
see to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.
Matthew 7:5
Don't judge me. Who do you think you are?
Hear this one often? Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that you may not be judged”? Ever have the title quote thrown at you? You know, I've heard the beam/mote quote so often in this context that the true meaning evaded me until it was recently pointed out.
Cast out the beam in thy own eye, and then shalt thou see to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.” Is this not a command? Christ isn't saying to cast the beam from your own eye and hope others follow your example, but to correct your error BEFORE pointing out a fault in your brother.
A perfect example would be the recent case of Casey Anthony. Many people were enraged at the not guilty verdict, many believe she should have received the death penalty. How many of these enraged people believe in the right to abortion? How many of these enraged people have had an (unrepented) abortion, or supported in one way or another a “friend” having one? Who is worse? The “mother” who pays a doctor to tear her defenseless child limb from limb, or the “mother” who chloroforms her daughter before death takes her?
What did Christ say in the situation of the woman caught in adultery?!
While many are thinking about the stone casting, His words to the adulteress -to the sinner - were: Go, and now sin no more. (John 8:11) Christ ate with sinners, yes, but He evangelized, He used it as an opportunity for conversion, to bring others closer to the Father. He wasn't enabling sin, He wasn't condoning it, He wasn't remaining silent about it, He condemned it.
Be you therefore perfect,
as also your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:48
Why don't you just love me the way I am?
I love you, but I love you too much to watch you hurt yourself.” This must be the mentality of the friend.
If you have a friend who's an alcoholic, do you buy their booze? Do you drive them to the bar in the name of being a “designated driver”? This isn't a lack of love, but a desire to help them do the right thing and to persevere in doing what's good for them.
Iron sharpeneth iron, so a man
sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
(Proverbs 27:17)
You're mean and disrespectful.
I heard it best from Kimberly Hahn who said “be sure it's the truth they're objecting to and not your offensive personality.” Truth in charity always, but beware of compromise. Often we (at least I do) come off as either overbearing, self-righteous, or rude when correcting another, or so careful and “nice” that it appears I approve, or at least don't strongly disapprove.
Of course, there will be times when it won't be matter how kind you are, you will be accused of being a Pharisee because the other tends to view himself as a demi-god who can do no wrong, who can never be wrong. When that accusation is thrown, we remain silent because “after all, I'm a sinner too. Who am I to make a correction? I have plenty faults of my own.”
Pull the plank from your eye before pulling the splint from your brother's” doesn't mean to not object to sin, but to make sure you're not doing the same thing as well, lest we burn alongside our neighbor.
We ought to obey God, rather than men.
Acts 5:29
My church says it's okay.
My church says I can divorce and remarry. My church says in vitro is okay. My church approves birth control and abortion.” Etc.
Okay, but what does God say? What has God revealed about these deeds?
None is good but God alone.
Luke 18:19
I'm a (basically) good person.
The very statement shows that the person proclaiming it is full of pride, the sin of Lucifer. They don't mean “I'm a good person” but “I'm good enough.” James 2:10 “And whosoever shall keep the whole law, but offend in one point, is become guilty of all.” That stunt wouldn't be pulled in the workplace by anyone who took their career seriously, why do we do it with God?
If you don't support me in _____, you're the one ending our friendship.
Like I said before, if the friendship is valued more than the friend, then all you have is a convenient acquaintance, not a friend. A person who gives this ultimatum is no different than a child stomping his feet and screaming because Mommy won't give him ice cream for supper.
He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me, is not worthy of Me. (Matthew 10:37)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fraternal Correction

Is it My will that a sinner should die,

saith the Lord God, and not that he should be

converted from his ways, and live?

~Ezechiel 18:23

I find that in this day and age, genuine friendship is neither appreciated nor desired, even among Christians. When one tries to be a good friend by objecting to sin, challenges arise from many: But he's happy. Why can't you just accept me for me? You're mean. My church says it's okay. But she's (basically) a good person.

As Christians, we can agree that we're to love the Lord first and foremost, and then to love one's neighbor as oneself. If we love the Lord, we want what He wants, which is not the death of the sinner, but that he be converted and live (Ezechiel 18:23).

I often hear Christians say something along the lines of “What he doesn't know can't hurt him”; thus, I shouldn't say anything and therefore he can't be held morally responsible. Christ makes it clear that ignorance doesn't excuse. “If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the pit.” (Matthew 15:14). Both. Not the leader, but both the leader AND the blind follower.

If we love our Lord, and if we love our friends, we cannot remain silent when they sin any more than we could if we knew their physical lives were in danger. “And if the watchman see the sword coming, and sound not the trumpet...I will require his blood at the hand of the watchman.” (Ezechiel 33:6) The sin of our friend will be upon our heads, in the eyes of the Lord, Whose eyes are the only ones that matter.

When we are corrected by friends (or enemies, for that matter) – whether right or wrong – we should not condemn them for daring to call us on the carpet. If they're looking out for our good (or simply pointing out hypocrisy), we need to examine that area of our life and, if we're in the wrong, correct it.

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I plan to answer the common objections to fraternal correction. I'd like to end today with this thought:

A true friend values the friend before the friendship, and is ready to sacrifice that friendship for the sake of the friend.