Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Love does not act Unseemly: Part 3

Relational Rudeness

Love does not behave in a way to uncover the sins or weaknesses of another. A beautiful example of this is when Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant. Mary was betrothed to marry Joseph, but before they were married Mary was found to be with child. By right, Joseph could have brought her before the elders and had her publicly humiliated and even stoned, but instead Joseph sought to deal with the matter privately. “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.” (Matthew 1:18-19) Out of love, Joseph decided not to expose Mary to public humiliation but rather to handle it in a way that would cover her sin. “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

Love covers sin and, even in the most extreme cases where sin must be exposed to the church, love does so in a final effort to bring about the redemption and restoration of the sinner. When sin enters a relationship, it should be handled within that relationship without the involvement of others unless absolutely necessary. Consider how Jesus taught us to handle the sins others. “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:15-17) When offended or wronged, love does not run around telling everyone they meat how they were wronged. Instead, love tries to resolve the issue, one on one, keeping the involvement of others to a minimum. When we expose another’s sin, it is gossip. Gossip, not only poisons the hearer, but ruins even the closest of relationships. “He who conceals a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates intimate friends.” (Proverbs 17:9)

One other form of relational rudeness is when we expose the weakness of another and open them t0 riducule and shame. “Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification.” (Romans 15:1-2) This weakness that Paul is referring to is a weakness of faith. Not everyone is at the same place in the Spirit as we are. We are all growing in the Lord at our own pace and along our own path assigned to us by the Lord. When love sees the weakness of others its desire is to build them up, to edify them. Love does not ridicule or belittle them, love does not think less of them, but love reaches out to build them up and to help them grow. “Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.” (Romans 14:1) When we pass judgment we are not acting in love. When we give in to the temptation to “share” our judgments of others, we are acting contrary to love. Love covers and love protects.

More to come… David Robison

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