“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,”
2 Cor. 10:3; NASB
A disturbing trend has been building for the past few years. It has affected believers as well as unbelievers. Different motivation fuels it in believers than in unbelievers. But regardless of who it comes from, the behavior is unacceptable. When it comes from Christians, however, it is especially egregious. That trend is “improperly handled judgment.” I realize this has been a problem throughout history, but it has gotten especially offensive in the fast-paced social media age we live in today. Everyone seems to have an opinion about someone else’s behaviors or beliefs, freely expressing them for all to see.
Contrary to what many believe, it is the job of Christians to judge the behaviors of other Christians (see 1 Cor. 5). We are not to judge a person; we are to judge their behavior. When we do this properly, it serves to hold others accountable for their actions while building a bond of trust and acceptance. When a person’s behavior or speech drifts away from being uplifting or beneficial, others will notice before the offending person will. By bringing it to their attention, they can probably repent of it and correct it with little effort if all involved are mature adults.
Let’s say you have a Christian friend or acquaintance who you know to be a sensible, good-hearted believer. You notice that for some reasons their demeanor changes. The change might be so slight that you question yourself, but you know there is a change. Your friend might seem bothered by the slightest inconvenience or statement. He or she might act short or frustrated in situations that normally would not have mattered to them. They might even start giving unkind answers to innocent questions or ignoring them altogether. You might notice them giving more attention to someone of the opposite sex, even though they are married. The list of possibilities is endless. What should you do?
First, realize that as Christians, we have an enemy who wants to see our demise. The temptation of destructive behavior presents itself almost every day, if not our own, someone else’s. Our loving obligation to those around us is to help them avoid falling into the spiritual traps that threaten to take us down an uncomfortable road. Biblically, it is not out of line to confront another believer in any area where we see danger of unacceptable behavior. However, we cannot do this in the flesh. It must be in prayer, seeking God’s leading in the situation. We should never do it in public, and that includes social media.
If you do not know someone well enough to speak to them in person, allow the Lord to lead someone else to confront them. It is not our place to comment on every out of line behavior we witness or hear about, especially online. If something is wrong in your church, confront the source personally, not openly. There are certain conditions where public rebuke is necessary, but it should be a last resort (see Matt. 18:17). The same goes for your workplace, school, or social group. There are spiritual reasons things go wrong between believers or in Christian circles. We should deal with them as spiritual issues, not in the flesh.
We are told how to handle sinful behavior in Matt. 18:15-17 and 1 Cor. 5:1-13. Read these passages, pray about them, and heed them. You will find that if you keep within the guidelines set in scripture for judgment and confrontation, it will go well for you, and you will be a blessing to those who are truly in Christ.
Have a great week and God bless.