Part of living in a fallen world, where we are all sinful, is that we suffer from the sins of other people (and they suffer from ours). What should we do when that happens? What should we do with other people’s sins? Here are three common responses:
- This is where we confess their sins to God. This can feel legitimate, even healing, especially if the sins are real. After all, we are taking it to God in prayer. But we’re not trying to forgive them, nor are we really asking for God’s help.
- This is where we confess their sins to ourselves; we seethe with bitterness and self-pity at what they have done and the injustice we are suffering.
- This is where we confess their sins to other people, sometimes under the guise of asking for help in knowing how to respond.
Somehow, spelling it out like this reveals what’s really going on. We’re seeking allies to support us against the person who has wronged us – whether the ally is God, ourselves or other people. I’ve certainly done all these things; haven’t you?
Needless to say, Jesus suggests a better way. He tells us to “go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over” (Matthew 18:15, NIV). He doesn’t tell us this for our information, our consideration, or even our advice. It’s much more like a command for us to obey. Will we?