When Sin Gets in the Way
Bible Reading: John 8:1-11
“Neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:11, NIV
“I know we’re supposed to love people just as they are,” Gabriella said. “But what about Christians who are walking away from God? I have a friend who’s doing some really stupid stuff. It started when her older brother began drinking and doing drugs. I’m not sure if she’s into that yet, but all she wants to do is hang out with her brother and his friends. At school it’s like she hardly knows me. She doesn’t come to church anymore. I don’t even want to know what she is doing. How can I love her?”
Good question. Love sees the hurt that people cause themselves when they disobey God. And love tries to protect people from harm. So the loving thing to do for Christians who run away from God is to lovingly confront them about their bad behavior—with the goal of protecting them from the consequences of doing wrong.
Suppose you have Christian friends who are starting to hang with the wrong crowd. They need someone to lovingly say, “The Bible makes it clear that what you do with those people is wrong. I hate to see you hurt yourself and others. You need to break off those friendships.” Your friends might not want to hear those words, but you have their best interests at heart. You don’t want to pretend evil behavior doesn’t exist. You want to do what you can to keep your friends from getting hurt.
But you can imagine how most people will react to that kind of honesty. That’s why this approach is called “tough love.” It risks friendship in order to turn Christian friends away from sin. The people you confront might not listen to you, and they might walk away from you for a while—or for good. Your job, though, is to do your best to persuade them. How they respond is between them and God.
And in the meantime you can keep loving them the way Christ loves by
• meeting their needs for friendship
• looking for ways to be a positive influence and encouragement
• doing kind things you would do for anyone else
• praying that God will give you opportunities that will help your friends ditch sin and turn to Christ
When friends sin, you aren’t helping them by ignoring their behavior in order to spare their feelings or to stay friends. You have an incredible opportunity to be honest and show the tough love they really need.
TALK: What’s the best way you can love a Christian who is trying hard to ditch God?
PRAY: God, give us wisdom when it’s tough to know exactly how to love.
ACT: Do you know any Christians who aren’t walking close to God? Make a plan as a family to show love to them.