Ep. 443 How Do You Respond to an Unkind Christian?
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Shows Main Idea – A reader asked, “How do you deal with people who claim to be Christians, yet they are brutally invasive with their tactics by forcing religion down someone’s throat and condemning the other person based on their past experiences and choices? There is only one way for secondary preferences in their view, and this person is the sole arbiter of what is right and wrong. Let me give you an example of what I’m saying.”
You may want to read:
“A lady was pregnant and not married. The harsh Christian woman says the baby was a child born out of wedlock, so the unwed mother and the baby shouldn’t be around her child because of the mother’s sin of getting pregnant and not being married to the baby’s father.”
Be Practically Accurate
- She said, “This person claimed to be a Christian.”
- Christians can be unkind. Being unkind does not mean a person is not a Christian.
- She said, “They are brutally invasive with their tactics.”
- This language is probably not biblical but hyperbolic.
- If you want to help someone change, it’s vital to use accurate descriptors when talking about what they are doing.
Assessment Question: How are you thinking about this sinning Christian who has sinned against this lady?
Start with God
- If the harsh person is a Christian, you know God will complete what He started in that person (Philippians 1:6).
- If the harsh person is not a Christian, you want to persuade them to come to Christ.
- As you have described here, it is difficult to speak with an unkind Christian. Taking what you’ve said at face value, this person sounds like a fool, and there is a danger when confronting fools.
- Before you say something, you want to understand them.
- For example, the core issue is self-righteousness, an elevated, greater-than, better-than attitude that looks down on those who are not like them.
- If you confront them, don’t do it publicly, i.e., on a social media platform.
- There could be a time later to confront them publicly, but you want to imitate the concept in Matthew 18:15-17 by talking to them privately first.
- Consider gaining the opinion of another before you confront them privately.
- You don’t have all the information about any matter because you are not omniscient.
- The person you talk to must be mature enough to steward what you’re saying, or they might take up an offense, adding to the problems rather than being part of the solution.
- There are two people in need here. You want to build a relational bridge to them, albeit differently, assuming it’s within the scope of possibilities to do so.
- The arrogant Christian
- The person with the condemning spirit has more profound and more expansive issues than carelessly rebuking this lady.
- The lady with the baby
Guard Your Heart
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself (Galatians 6:1-3).
- Condemnation is not the way to motivate a person to change.
- The temptation would be to condemn this person uncharitably, making yourself like her.
- Stewarding offenses without taking up an offense is for the mature.
- The condemning lady should have looked at her with compassion and sought to get to know her story while bringing the hope of the gospel to her.
- This attitude is the same spirit that you will need for the condemner.
Are You For Them?
My former boss told me I would go to hell if I did not become a Christian. His words were not harsh or brutal.
- My boss was “for me.” (See Romans 8:31.)
- We had a relationship.
- I knew he was on my side.
How to Help Them
- Understand the arrogant, knowing we are like them.
- Attempt to build a relationship to restore them if possible.
- Seek the shunned lady to help her if possible, assuming there is a context to care for her.
- Do not complain (gossip) to others about this problem.
- That person must be part of the solution if you share with someone.
Call to Action
When interacting with a self-righteous person who has sinned against someone, will you think through these questions?
- Are you for this unkind Christian?
- Do you have compassion for this misguided Christian? You want to remember God made this person in His image, so you must carefully and courageously cooperate with God to restore this person.
- Are you modeling the Christ that I want this person to emulate?
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Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).