As Christians we frequently find ourselves trying desperately to remain on the correct side of a very fine line in life. We are trying to do what is right, attempting to live God-pleasing lives, hoping to share the good news with those who need to hear it . . . while sheltering our children from bad influences, guarding our own hearts and minds from things of this world, and sometimes making the decision that certain people just can not be a part of our life.
On one side of that fine line we have many exhortations in God’s Word to live a holy life. “Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:24) We do our best to treat others as children of God and are driven to help and love others. One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 10:24, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Most importantly, we are to carry out the Great Commission and “go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19:20)
These all sound like worthy goals to me, and I hope you agree. But what lies on the other side of the line?
God also commands us to “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” Though we are to be kind and compassionate to one another, we are also told to “Expel the wicked man from among you.” (1 Corinthians 5:13) I don’t know about you, but I am a little confused.
On the other side of that fine line we find ourselves becoming judgemental. It is easy to justify and even easier to fall into. I’m not saying I dislike them, but I should remove them from my presence for their evilness . . . right? How do we stay on the right side of this line? How do we even know where it is? When have I gone from controlling my childrens’ influences to teaching them that some people are not good enough for them? When have I gone so far in guarding my own heart from worldliness that I was blind to see where I was needed?
We are in this world but not of it, but it is so much more difficult than that. Each parent is going to draw that line in a different place for their kids, but it doesn’t mean that they love their kids or God any more or less than I do. Instead of debating over where this line might be, maybe we should just accept that we are all doing our best and not purposely crossing it. Let us support each other in our quest to be guided by the Holy Spirit in “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
Lord, keep us in your care, help our attitudes to be in line with yours, and guide us to guard ourselves against the evil one while still sharing your love, Word, and gift of salvation. Thank you for the gift of grace that you have given us, that even when our own attitudes get in the way, you are ready to forgive and guide us onward.