Monday, November 25, 2013

When we're not participants in the decision making process

Romans 14:3
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
Starry Starry Oak
image credit: concentric circles of stars
I am not one to advocate never calling someone to the carpet for their behavior. There are times when I believe we should judge others--in the sense of pointing out that their actions don't reflect their expressed beliefs. But who I judge is a pretty narrow group: people I am in a close relationship with, who I know well enough that they also have permission to correct me for discrepancies in my behavior. Really close relationships, like those in my immediate family. Moving out from that small group are concentric circles of people who I would speak up to in a milder way all the way to people I would not "judge" in any way since I wouldn't make any assumptions about their instruction in the faith or their commitment to follow Christ.
When we interact daily with someone on an intimate level we often become involved in their decision making. They ask our opinions; they request our prayers; we see the options available to them and why they choose to move in a particular direction. We gain confidence in their decision to "eat" or "not eat" something (to serve or not serve in a particular way; to move; to marry; to accept or reject a job; etc.) because we are part of the decision making process and we see them seek the Lord's will and attempt to obey it. When we're not close enough to someone to be involved in that process, it becomes extremely dangerous to assume that they chose the wrong path. We should at least act as if we assume the best of them and their discernment even if we privately doubt that they are doing the right thing. If they didn't, then our own attempts to obey the Lord in both minor and significant areas of our life will be its own witness, gently calling them back to Christ and the path He would want them to follow for their individual lives. We can pray for them and be ready to speak if the doors are opened. But generally speaking, if our relationship with someone is distant enough that we're not part of their discernment process, then we also shouldn't force our input into their lives in areas that we truly do not know the Lord's desire for them, only His desire for ourselves.

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