Sunday, April 29, 2012

Are You an Accessory to the Crime?

How many times do we see someone doing something wrong and just walk on by?  Because it isn't our place to say something and we definitely wouldn't want to step on someone's toes!  But what if I told you that by doing so, by leaving that sin unmentioned, makes you an accessory to the crime?

Leviticus 19:17 - You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him.

We have already established that hatred of the heart (a grudge) is a bad thing "for malice is murder begun" (Henry).  (If you need a refresher check out my previous blog here).  This verse, I believe, does not just talk about any old grudge, but rather, a grudge against another person's sin.  Instead of harboring a hatred toward this person for the sin they have or are committing we must reprove them: "...endeavor to convince our brother of the injury, reason the case fairly with him, and so put an end to the disgust conceived" (Henry).  

I suppose at this point we must clarify who our neighbor is.  While the first reference to fellow countryman refers to "any other man, united to us only by the tie of the human race" (Lexicon), the next mention of reproving one's neighbor refers to "the man of my fellowship" or "companion" (Lexicon).  I'm not saying that if you see a random man on the street in an act of sin, you should stop and tell him that what he is doing is wrong.  We are to reprove those who are our companions, those whom we are close to.

And we must do so in love!  Adam Clarke points out that when we read "do not hate"  we must see "love" in its place.  The opposite of hate is love, so if we are to NOT hate than we MUST love.  If you are going to reprove your neighbor, do so with an attitude of mildness and affection, mercy and compassion.

Now back to my mention of being an accessory.  Henry states it this way -     "[By leaving him in sin] we are in danger of bearing sin for him...If we reprove not the unfruitful works of darkness, we have fellowship with them, and become accessaries." It is our responsibility to confront our companion if they have fallen into sin - "If thy brother has done wrong, thou shalt neither divulge it to others, nor hate him and smother that hatred by sullen silence; nor flatter him therein, but shalt freely and in love, tell him of his fault" (Wesley).  If we do not do this we become an accessory to the crime!  And in today's world, that means jail time.  

I realize that this isn't an easy task - it is taboo in our society to tell someone else that you think they are doing wrong.  We are stepping on their toes - what an appalling thing to do!  But we are not of this world, we have a much higher calling.  Part of that higher calling means we are responsible for the well being of our companions and it IS our place to let them know that they are sinning, in a mild and loving way.  

I challenge you today, first and foremost, to ask God what YOU are doing the log in your own eye.  Then, if you feel that you need to speak to someone else about their actions or behaviors, first pray.  Seek God's guidance in the matter.  Then approach this person with grace and love - help them see what they are doing and then do what you can to help them!  

Side-note - our couple's devotion was over this same matter last night.  I love the way God works!

Have a blessed Sunday and a fantastic week!

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