By Shewanda Riley
A number of years ago, I had a conversation with fellow author Michelle Stimpson about how we Christians fail to respond when we see others struggling with character issues. We agreed that so many Christians see friends, co-workers and loved ones struggling with “sins” but choose not to do anything to get the person back on the right path. We both agreed that it was hard to believe but some people would rather watch others struggle with God’s truth than help them accept it. In a strange way, some of us like seeing others struggle even when we could offer encouraging words or words of correction to help them go in the right direction.
As we continued talking about it, she shared how an experience she had at the gym illustrated an intriguing aspect of human nature. At her gym, the walking track changes signs every so often. This means that even though you may go on Monday and the arrow is pointing left, if you return on Friday, the arrow is now facing the opposite direction. Because some people are so used to the arrow being in one direction, they follow that same path out of habit…and without realizing that it is wrong.
She stated that some people are clearly on the wrong path. “The arrow on the wall always tells which way to go but, inevitably, the new members never know which way to go. People just let them keep on going the wrong way even though it might mean they’ll collide with runners on the track as they round the corners with limited visibility.” Stimpson added, “I think that it’s my responsibility to let them know where to look for the direction while many others simply let them keep going the wrong way for several times around the track (looking like oddballs and endangering us all!) instead of stepping in to help.”
I thought her story was so powerful because we often let others continue with unhealthy behaviors and attitudes knowing that they are headed in the wrong direction. We know that they aren’t thinking and acting right.…and can potentially hurt themselves and others through their actions. Sometimes it’s out of jealousy that we say nothing because we secretly want them to fail. In other instances, we choose not to say anything because we may be struggling with the same issue ourselves. We might also be secretly hoping that our “stuff” doesn’t come out to embarrass us.
It’s not about judging anyone for their wrongdoing. However, God’s word does ask us to gently correct and at the same time show kindness to others. It’s about putting the words of Galatians 6:1 into action: “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. “How do you do that? ” Ephesians 4:15-16 says to speak the truth in love. First, you have to recognize then choose to walk in God’s truth in order to speak it.
Shewanda Riley (Aunt Wanda), PhD, is a Fort Worth-based author of “Love Hangover: Moving from Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends” and “Writing to the Beat of God’s Heart: A Book of Prayers for Writers.” Email her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @shewanda. You can also listen to her podcast at www.chocolateauntiepodcast.com