You may not know it yet, but there’s a new form of Christian counseling and way of doing small groups. It’s advocated for by a bunch of really important people in the church, and it goes a little something like this….
1) We should all be dedicated, open, honest, and authentic with each other. We should have each others’ trust. (true)
2) Since we have each other’s trust, it’s my job to call you out when you are in sin, because I care enough about you to make sure that you don’t hurt yourself or others. (also true)
3) I am allowed to call you out on your behavior whenever I want and however I want. (false)
When we do this….when we call each other out, we end up sounding like a bunch of pomp-ass, crass, insensitive morons. Just because someone confesses that they are having trouble believing Jesus loves them, doesn’t give us the right to declare: “Well, that’s unbelief. Really, it’s what it is!”
If someone confesses to having an issue of lust, we don’t have the right to diagnose their sin. “That’s foolish behavior. You need to put a boundary on that thing.”
WE DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT!
We have a right to correct each other. We don’t have a right to think that we got this “sin” thing down and know exactly how it works. And we certainly don’t have the right to pretend like we know how to get people “on track.”
See the problem is that if we read something really helpful at diagnosing the sin attitudes behind behaviors, we often don’t go after the sin. We go after the person. We label them. If they’re in a liberal church, they might just look at you funny. But if they are in a hard core, bible believing church, they’re going to take that shame, heap it on themselves, say some words about the gospel, and unknowingly take one BIG step away from real relationship with Jesus.
So what do we have the right to do? Well, Galatians 6 tells us.
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”
If you think you’ve got it together, if you think that you can diagnose someone else…just stop. You have the right to encourage you brother or sister to get up, and remember that they are still a child of God. You have the right to restore the person to equal standing in the church. You have the right to watch over your own heart and ask God that you don’t make the same mistake.
If you’re willing to do that, then you’re willing to do some real kingdom work. If not, sit down, shut up, and quit hurting your brothers and sisters. (this is an example, of course, of what NOT being gentle looks like. See how I did that?