I bet when you read the title of this blog, someone immediately came to mind… and let’s all face it… there are all times that we stumble in our faith. When I was a freshman in college I watched a strong Christian leader who many people looked up to really stumble in her faith. A naive teen at this time, I did what I could to help but when my “helping” ended up hurting me and my family I ended up feeling like I was taken advantage of. At the time, I went into defense mode and did what I could to protect myself (my finances) and my future, not really thinking much about her. If I’m honest, I acted in ways that I am not proud of now. For example, when I would see her around town I would flat out ignore her if she said hi to me…etc. I know terrible…but true.
Years later, once I started going back to church more regularly, I knew that I had to forgive her and let her know that I had forgiven her…now this process took about 3 maybe 4 years. What I didn’t expect was what I learned in the process of forgiving was that I needed to apologize to her (which I did), for not responding to her in love. I learned that just because I was hurt by her actions, didn’t excuse my behavior in not responding to her in a loving gentle manner.
I want to share a story. One day after a horrible disaster, Steve plants a vineyard. Once the vineyard had harvested, the grapes fermented, and the wine aged, he drank the wine and got pretty drunk… like embarrassingly drunk to the point that he had passed out naked. His youngest son, Dave, went and gossiped to his other 2 older brothers (Bob and Austin) about what the dad had done. Bob and Austin took a blanket and without looking went and covered their father. Many of you can see that this is a modern-day tale of Noah (read the story of Noah and his sons here). What I love about Noah’s sons, is that they didn’t need to know the situation, they weren’t curious about seeing their dad in his shame…they just responded to what he needed at that time.
I know how easy it is to be like Dave/Ham to go and run and tell our friends when someone stumbles, or to be hurt and respond to people’s behavior in an unloving manner, and have opinions about this or that. But God says that Jesus is our defender, and if we want to live more like Jesus’ example we need to do more defending, and respond to people’s stumbles in a more gentle and loving manner.
“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin.
But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense
—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1).
We all know people who are stumbling right now…or who have in the past. And I know how easy it is to judge people for their actions, but let’s be more like Jesus and speak in our friend’s behalf’s. When someone sins against us it is an opportunity to obey God and respond in a Godly manner. Let’s apologize for where we have failed them as friends. Let’s come along side them and offer them words of encouragement, and surround them with prayers. Let’s protect them, and inspire them to live out the life God has set out for them.