Do you take God for granted? Do you fear men and their friendship more than you fear God? These may sound like strange questions to you, but I think a lot of people fall into this group.
We worry about what our friends will think of us. We worry that people will think of us as fanatics. We worry that we won't be liked by everyone, that people will say bad things about us. So what? Who cares what people say or think? Well the fact is most of us do.
The problem is that when we get caught up with what other people think about us, we forget the most important being in the Universe; God. In effect what we are telling Him is that He is less important than those people around us. We have just made the Creator of the Universe smaller than His own creation.
This may seem harsh, but if before you do something, you don't first think about what God will think of your actions, then you are wrong! No ifs, no ands, and no buts, you are wrong; period. Who has the ultimate right to judge your actions? Who has the ultimate right to hold you accountable? Of course it is God. So why doesn't He come first in your thoughts?
It is nice to be well thought of by others. It is nice to have many friends. It is nice to make others happy when you are around them. Wouldn't it be even nicer to make God happy? The hard cold fact is that if you manage to make everyone happy around you all of the time, you don't have any integrity. People are not happy when a person stands up and tells the truth, if that truth goes against what they are doing or want to do. Integrity means calling sin, sin even when a friend or loved one is committing it. Integrity is taking God's side even when it means you and God are the only two on that side of the fence. From a human stand point integrity can be a very lonely place. From a spiritual point of view it is a warm, loving, rewarding place to be, because you are in God's presence.
So we are back to the first question, how big is your God? Is He nothing but a lovable, caring God? I hear things like this all the time: "I know God does not approve of what I am doing, but I know He loves me." Or: "God will always forgive me, but I am not going to worry about that now." Or even: "I know someday I will stand before God and have to answer for what is going on in my life, but I will worry about that later." Those people's God is a small being, no one to worry about today. Well if that fits you then maybe you don't really know God very well in the first place.
Here is a little glimpse of God from His Word. See if He fits your view of Him: "Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. "Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself? Do you have an arm like God's, and can your voice thunder like his? Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor, and clothe yourself in honor and majesty. Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at every proud man and bring him low, look at every proud man and humble him, crush the wicked where they stand. Bury them all in the dust together; shroud their faces in the grave. Then I myself will admit to you that your own right hand can save you. Job 40:7-14
Okay, you say, 'Hey, I know God is mighty and awesome, you are preaching at the choir!" Well are you willing to stand up and tell people when they are on the wrong path? I don't mean, when they do things that you don't agree with, I am talking about when God disagrees with what they are doing. This could be because His Word makes it clear that they are on the wrong path, or He has laid it on your heart that this is wrong. This should never be taken lightly. You should always pray earnestly for guidance and to know God's will, but once you are sure that you should speak out, are you willing?
It often comes at a heavy price. You can be labeled as a fanatic, ridiculed, laughed at, lose friends, even spoken to about judging by other Christians. So why would you ever want to do it? You might never want to, but you will, if your God is big enough.
I often hear people quote Jesus: "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Matthew 7:1-2 So how do I justify confronting people with their sin? Easy, as I stated before, it comes from God. If what they are doing clearly goes against God's Word or if God lays a burden on your heart, then you have a responsibility to tell them. You are not judging them, you are warning them of God's judgement. Jesus said that one of the downfalls of judging is that you will be judged with the same measure. Well guess what, you will be judged by this measure whether you speak out or not, because it is God's measure.
Wouldn't it be a lot easier to just let God deal with them and mind your own business? Of course it would but I believe there is a real danger there. If God has shown you that what someone is doing is displeasing to Him I think you have a responsibility to God as well as the other person to speak out. If that person refuses to repent then that person will answer to God, whether or not you said anything. But where does that leave you? The next two verses that I will list are a couple of the most troubling for me in the whole Bible. It shows the accountability not only of those who sin but of those whom God speaks to about those sins. Next time you don't want to lose a friend or be called a fanatic, or you just want to be liked by everyone, think of these verses. When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you will surely die,' and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself. Ezekiel 33:8-9
These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.
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