Skip to main content

Talk to People Rather than about Them

                            

Recall that in Luke 18:9, Luke introduces the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector like this: "He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt." It may seem minor at first, but notice that it says that Jesus told this parable TO some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous. It does not say he spoke this parableABOUT them. Jesus was looking the Pharisees in the eye and telling them a parable that implied that they were self-righteous. He was not talking about them but to them.
Though it may seem minor, it contains a lesson that is huge for the health of our church. Let's be like this. Let's not talk to others about people's faults. Let's talk to themabout their faults. It is easy - and far too tasty on the tongue of our sinful souls - to talk about people. But it is hard - and often tastes bitter - to talk to them. When you are talking about them, they can't correct you or turn the tables and make you the problem. But if you talk to them about a problem, it can be very painful. So it feels safer to talk about people rather than talking to them.

But Jesus does not call us to make safe choices. He calls us to make loving choices. In the short run, love is often more painful than self-protecting conflict-avoidance. But in the long run, our consciences condemn us for this easy path and we do little good for others. So let's be more like Jesus in this case and not talk about people, but talk to them, both with words of encouragement, because of the evidences of grace we see in their lives, and with words of caution or warning or correction or even rebuke. Paul urged us to use the full range of words for the full range of needs: "Admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all" (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

I don't mean you can't criticize President Bush without calling him on the phone first. And I don't mean you can't discuss my sermon, both negatively and positively, without coming to me. Public figures put themselves on the line and understand that everyone will have an opinion about what they say. That's okay. What I mean is when you know a brother or a sister is in the grip of some sinful attitude or behavior, take the log out of your eye, and then go to them and try to help them with humble biblical counsel.

Perhaps tell them a parable. That's what Jesus did in Luke 18:9-14. And it's what Nathan did for David, after his sin with Bathsheba and toward Uriah (2 Samuel 12:1-4). But you don't have to be that creative. Caring about the person you confront matters more than creativity.
My longing for our church is that we be free from gossip. Let's be forthright and honest and courageous and humble. Jesus was amazingly blunt at times. Love sometimes sounds like that. He could have easily been accused of callousness or lovelessness. But we know he was the most loving person who ever lived. So let's follow him in this matter. He died for us so that all the logs and specks in our eyes may be forgiven. That should give us both courage and care in dealing with others. Especially when we realize that the faults of our brothers and sisters have also been forgiven by Jesus.

What an amazing standing place we have for relationships. A forgiven, justified, Spirit-indwelt community of people who love to grow in grace. Thank you for loving to trust and follow Jesus in the way of talking to each other rather than about each other.

Pastor John

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website:www.desiringGod.org. Email: mail@desiringGod.org.

Comments

  1. Excellent quote and as usual sound, biblical advice from John.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

When God turns a deaf ear on prayers

Does God always hear people’s prayers, or do some pray in vain thinking that God hears them, when in reality He chooses to turn a deaf hear to their cries? Some may perhaps have a notion that all prayers are worthy, and God being who He is is by nature willing to listen and hear their prayers delightfully. They entertain the notion that it is their birth right for God to listen to their prayers and answer them accordingly. Also, there are some who come before the presence of the Lord with severe doubts, defeated by the devils whisper that they are such an unworthy soul that for them to lift up their cries to the Lord is an abomination. They are mute by their own wickedness, depressed and thus fail to pray.

What does the scripture say about God turning a deaf hear to prayers? It is to be said that God is sovereign and can choose to answer any prayer as He sees fit. He is altogether happy and never backed into a corner, God always does whatever He pleases for He is free to do as He wills…

What does it mean to live a godly life?

If you ever asked yourself the question, what does it mean to live a godly life? and if your not exactly sure what living a godly life involves, this extract taking from Charles Seet book 'A Christian in a non-Christian world' provides ample guidance on just what to do.

Now it is worth asking the question then, 'What does it mean to live godly?' It does not mean that we are just to confine ourselves within a set of rules and regulations. Some people reduce godly living to a list of 'do’s and don'ts.' But the meaning of godly living goes far deeper than that.

Godly living means living in the manner that God wants us to live. It means having the same feelings, attitudes and heart's desires that God has. It means that we love the things that God loves, care for the things that God cares for, and dislike those things which He dislikes. And since God loves righteousness, a godly person also loves righteousness. Since God hates sin, a godly person also hates …

Women of the Bible: Adah and Zillah

The Sin of Adam and Eve resulted in the fall of humanity. Every generation after them became wicked and that is why scripture affirms, ‘that there is no one righteous, no, not even one.’ Mankind became enslave to the passions of its flesh, its desires became its ruler and men followed the natural dictates of their hearts; and were it not for Sovereign grace, the race of men would now only be read of by angels in the library of extinct creatures. Adam and Eve witnessed the consequences of their sin in the death of their beloved son, Abel, by the hands of Cain who murdered his brother in anger and was thus sent away from the presence of God. My dear sisters, sin is not only sin when it is found in its extremes, sin is also sin in its subtlety and vanity. Sin is sin when one's affection is set on another and not on God, when one lives to please a thing or a being which is not God; this is also sin.
This becomes especially evident in the lives of Adah and Zillah the wives of Lamech. Th…