by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: II Corinthians 5:6-21

 

I.         It seems that today, showing another person love means never telling them they are wrong or criticizing them any way

            A.        People claim to be offended if other person disagrees with them or points out a flaw in their behavior

                        1.         Islamaphob! Homophob! Etc.

                        2.         To take a stance that goes against what another person pushes is declared to be “hate speech!”

            B.        Like many things in society these every increasing intolerance of disagreement spills over into the church

                        1.         If a strong sermon or lesson is taught in a class, then people take offense

                        2.         I remember one young woman who was upset that a lesson was presented that showed abortion was wrong.

                        3.         If the preacher or teacher points out that the lesson was biblical, then a common response is that it wasn’t taught in love. “You have to teach the truth in love!”

            C.        Ephesians 4:15 does say the church is to speak the truth in love, but what is love?

                        1.         Does love mean never having your feelings hurt?

            D.        “You can’t judge!”

                        1.         Does that mean you can’t come to a conclusion?

                        2.         Such as concluding that I’m wrong for deciding that what you are doing is wrong?

II.        Souls are at risk!

            A.        If you see someone about to pick up a pot that you know is scalding hot, what is the loving thing to do?

                        1.         Speak quietly because you don’t want to offend them with your tone of voice?

                        2.         Offer them encouraging words so you won’t hurt their self-esteem?

                        3.         Watch quietly because you don’t want to judge them?

                        4.         Stand by and love them and hope they stop before they hurt themselves?

            B.        It may seem silly, but this is the way too many respond to sin.

                        1.         Oh, they might see as generically “bad,” but they don’t accept that there is danger.

                        2.         Try talking to someone about an inappropriate social media post

                        3.         Or talk to them about the sin they are involved in

            C.        The problem is people believe speaking the truth is unloving.

                        1.         But love rejoices in the truth - I Corinthians 13:6

                        2.         Some times love requires saying the hard things

            D.        If you are going to convert someone out of the world, you will have to out the sins of the world

                        1.         A watchman’s duty is to warn of the danger - Ezekiel 3:18-19

                        2.         Isaiah 58:1 - Announce the people’s sins

                                    a.         Isaiah probably would be unfriended in the social media world or banned for making sin clear.

            E.        Is your doctor unkind, unloving, and judgmental because he just told you that you have cancer?

                        1.         Would you prefer not to be told the truth? Would that be “kind?”

                        2.         Would your doctor be more loving if he stayed quiet about it?

                        3.         Yet we live in a time when any negative word causes an outrage

III.       There are times when gentle correction is needed

            A.        Galatians 6:1 - Gently restore a person caught in sin

            B.        II Timothy 2:24-26 - Must not be quarrelsome

IV.      How Jesus handled sin

            A.        We can see gentleness in Jesus teaching the woman at the well in John 4

            B.        But there are other times when Jesus spoke strongly

                        1.         When dealing with the stubborn Pharisees in Matthew 23:13ff

                        2.         If Jesus posted these comments on Facebook, what would you expect the reaction would be?

            C.        What you don’t see is Jesus standing and not saying anything about a persons’ sins.

                        1.         The adulterous woman in John 8 is often cited, but notice John 8:10-11

            D.        Different people will require different approaches - Jude 22-23

V.        What is love?

            A.        I John 4:8 - God is love

            B.        I John 5:3 - Loving God is keeping His commandments

            C.        John 14:15 - We love Christ when we keep his commandments

            D.        Romans 13:10 - Love is the fulfillment of the law

            E.        Therefore, love is to do what God says in the way He says to do it.

            F.        Love for our neighbors requires exposing sin - Ephesians 5:8-11

                        1.         We can’t just abstain from sin, we have to expose sin for what it is.

            G.        Talking about the cross was offensive for some people - Galatians 5:11

            H.        Knowing the fear of God, we seek to persuade people - II Corinthians 5:10-11

            I.         That requires both positive and negative teaching - II Timothy 4:1-2

                        1.         To Titus, Paul said to speak with all authority - Titus 2:15

                        2.         That included rebuking the Cretans - Titus 1:13

            J.         Love demands that we care about what happens to each person we meet

            K.        We cannot be silent


[Ideas came from Brad Harrub’s “Are You Just Standing Around Holding Coats?”]

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