Tag Archives: condemnation

Being Supportive Doesn’t Always Mean Agreeing

Let me paint you a picture, to illustrate today’s topic. You have a good friend who is completely tone deaf, they can’t hold a tune, but they really love to sing. Yes, we all know such a person, and if you don’t, then you may actually be that person. Let’s say that person comes to you and tells you that they’re going to go on X-Factor, or American Idol, or whatever other show you know of. What do you say? You see we are taught that if you agree with someone, you are being supportive. If you disagree, then you ‘don’t believe in the person’. This is complete nonsense, but we have somewhat come to believe this. How many times do we see people with massive dreams of becoming a singer, who have complete ‘support’ from their friends and family, get humiliated by some ruthless judge in front of the entire nation on TV? My question is simple, “Why hasn’t anyone stopped them before this?”.

Now let me be clear here, I am not talking about speaking negatively into someone’s life. I know that the Bible says that we are more than conquerors in Jesus, and we should have faith. I am not talking about people who try and scare you into not taking a chance. I am merely saying that just because someone disagrees with you, doesn’t mean that they don’t support you. So what am I talking about? I am talking about the times when we live our lives in a way that goes against scripture. Let me use an extreme example. If I were cheating on my wife, and one of my friends found out, what would they do? I would hope that they would call me out in no uncertain terms and tell me to stop. In fact, if one of them actually punched me in the face, I wouldn’t see it as an over-reaction. Now I am not condoning violence, but my point is simple, in supporting people sometimes we may have to disagree with them. People are sometimes going to do the wrong things, and a true friend will stop them. If you really love someone, sometimes you need to stand against their actions. Sometimes, supporting someone means stopping them from doing something stupid. As per the singing example, you stop them from the humiliation of being told the truth on live TV. With other more serious actions, sometimes the consequences could be 100 times worse, so we need to step in and tell people when they are making a bad choice.

I grew up in South Africa, but live in the UK, and I think that it is safe to say that English people often disagree with someone but very seldom tell them. The general ‘socially acceptable’ way here is to have a good moan about the fact that someone is doing something wrong, but don’t actually tell them because you don’t want to upset them. Now before you get upset, this is a gross generalisation, but the generalisation for South Africans is different. We are very quick to go and tell the person that they are wrong and that they should sort themselves out. This is also not the best way, as it is often not done in love, but more from a point of condemnation. I don’t know what the general trend is in the US, as I have never been there, but the bulk of people that read this blog are from the US so maybe you can comment and let me know.

Here is the bottom line. If we truly love and support our friends, we will tell them when they are doing something wrong and encourage them to do it right. We will not condemn, but we will not ignore their actions (or worse, encourage the wrong actions). We are called to hold each other accountable, that is not condemning. We hold each other accountable in order to build them up, the devil condemns in order to tear us down, there is a massive difference between the two. Encouraging people to stop doing what is wrong, is part of encouraging people to do what is right. We are called to do both of those things. So next time your friend opposes you in love, next time they challenge you on something that you are doing, don’t jump down their throat. Ask yourself, is there something that you need to change? Are they right? If they are, then maybe you need to listen to them. If they are not, they are still only trying to help, so go easy on them. Don’t accept negativity over your life, but don’t just disregard anyone who disagrees with you, there may be an important lesson lost.

Until next week.

Richard

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When in Rome (a Look at Romans) – Part 14

Romans 14 is an interesting chapter, and one where we can learn lots of valuable lessons, although there is also a risk of misunderstanding this chapter. Let’s take a look at what it says, and what we can learn today.

This passage of scripture talks about not arguing with people about what they think is right and wrong. It speaks about what people believe about what they eat, and how people were judged by what they ate. Let me use an example from my own life. I have no problem with drinking alcohol, I don’t believe that it is right to get drunk, but I have no issue with people who have a drink. I occasionally have a drink, and I have friends who will do the same, however I also have friends who won’t touch alcohol. I respect this. There are Christians out there who used to have drinking problems, so they now stay away from alcohol. There are others who see the danger of drink, so they stay away from it. I have no problem having one drink, and I have never need drunk, so it is not a stumbling block for me. Having said this, if I go to the house of someone who doesn’t drink, I won’t try and convince them to drink. I won’t even serve alcohol if they come to my house. Why? I respect them and their beliefs, and I do not want to cause them to stumble, by trying to get them to do something that I am comfortable doing. This is what this passage is talking about.

I hope that explains what this means, but let me take a minute to tell you what this passage does not say. I have heard it preached that this passage shows that we should not tell others what is right and wrong as it is only wrong if it is ‘wrong for you’. This is nonsense. The Bible is clear about what is right and what is wrong, scripture also tells us that we should teach. We should show others what is right and wrong. The Bible is good for rebuking and teaching. This passage is talking abut something different, it is talking about condemning others over personal convictions. Verse 10 even tells us not to condemn. This is not talking about accountability. I just wanted to make that clear. If you are doing something against what scripture teaches, and someone tries to correct you, don’t use this chapter in your defence. There are parts of scripture (like drinking for example), where it leaves it up to the individual.

There are a few verses in this passage that give me some things to think about, let’s take a look at some of them. Verse 12 and 13. Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall. Most people will use this chapter to justify what they do, and how others should treat them, however it actually shows us how we should live. How many of us live our lives in such a way to prevent others from stumbling? I often find myself using this scripture to justify what I do. “Don’t judge me, the Bible says not to look down on me.” Do I look down on others? Do I live my life so that others don’t fall? I’m not always sure, but this does give me some things to think about. What about you?

How about verse 23? But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning. This is why we shouldn’t try and convince people to live like us, they need to follow what they believe to be right. Yes, we have scripture to learn from, and yes, we should be using it to teach people. We shouldn’t be forcing people to do what we believe to be right. We should be teaching them what scripture says, so they they can come to the conclusion on their own. Let’s look at the drinking situation again, for me to drink is not a sin because the Bible does not condemn it, and I am not convicted. If I persuade someone to drink, when they believe that it is wrong, then they are sinning. This means that an action could be a sin for someone else and not for me, depending on what we believe and how we have been convicted.

Let’s all have a think about this, and remember it next time we are faced with an issue like this. Just remember, this is not an invitation to do what we like, it is a reminder to keep others in mind when determining our actions.

Stay blessed.

Richard