Today’s devotional: helping the sinners in our midst

Are there any sinners in your church?

Of course there are—no matter how well-dressed they are or how sincere in their worship, everyone in the church struggles with sin in their personal lives. Lust, anger, greed, jealousy… we know for a fact that these sins plague us all, and yet it’s all too easy for us to look at the congregation gathered around us and imagine that there’s nobody out there who has these “issues”… or even worse, to feign shock and surprise when sin comes to light in the church.

This devotional from Delve Into Jesus asks us to imagine how our churches would respond if the congregation knew all of your secret sins:

If all those gathered at your church on a Sunday morning knew of these sins, would they be as gracious as their Lord who suffered and died for these very sins He forgives?

There would certainly be a great deal of hushed whispering between friends in empty hallways, but most of it would consist of feigned disgust and manufactured outrage. We all know from personal experience that sin remains an ongoing problem after we give our lives to Jesus, yet many remain incredulous that anyone at their church could be battling any given particular sin. It makes them uncomfortable but at the same time it’s interesting and curious. And so, in order to maintain the pretense that everyone in their own circle of friends, at least, would never indulge in that particular sin or vice, they reassure one another that it’s a heinous sin to which none of them would ever fall victim. When this phenomenon gets really bad, as I’ve seen on a few occasions, the whispers escalate into staring glances and loud talking which halts abruptly when the person who is the topic of conversation walks into the room. The people being stared at and talked about are not oblivious – they know exactly what’s going on and what’s being said about them behind their back. It won’t take long before these people move on to another church where they can battle their sin in loneliness and anonymity.

There is only one acceptable motive for talking about someone else’s battle with sin, and that is to ask, “How can I help?” If there is something tangible which we can do to help, then we have an obligation to offer that help. An offer of help does not in any way suggest that we condone the sin. It’s entirely possible to demonstrate great love and compassion even as we let the person know that what they’re doing is at odds with God’s will for their life and that we want to help if we can.

Read the full devotional at Delve Into Jesus.

The proper response to sin when it crops up in the church is to offer love, prayer, and help—not disgust, outrage, or smugness. When sin appears in your church, which reaction is more common?

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