August 19, 2011
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James 5:20 – Remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. (NIV)

"Don't be judgmental!" "Only God can judge!" "You Christians are always judging others."

If I had a dollar for every time that I've heard or read that somewhere, then I'd be a rich person today. People want to live their own lives and make their own choices, but when a pastor, a church member, or a faithful Christian points out the foolishness or danger of such decisions, they're often met with those kinds of aggressive answers.

Now, people can say what they want against Christians, but Christians do have a responsibility of helping and encouraging people to change their lives, especially when their lifestyle choices are self-destructive, sinful, and selfish. The world may criticize Christians for being judgmental, but in many cases, Christians are actually displaying discernment and trying to help sinners turn from the error of their ways. It may not be popular, but sometimes, Christian intervention stops a person from further injury, addiction, or isolation.

I know that for me, it took Christ's intervention and real supportive Christian people to enable me to overcome my alcohol addiction. They knew that I was an alcoholic, even although I would not admit it to myself. But rather than say or do nothing, my Christian friends held me accountable for my foolish decisions and eventually enabled me to win my battle against drinking alcohol. I may have thought that they were judgmental at first, but when I overcame my addiction, I realized how much their tough love, confrontational care, and true discernment of my self-inflicted situation had challenged and changed me.

Christians should not be afraid of being called "judgmental" when dealing with self-destructive sinners or sinful behaviour. Sometimes, God places us — family and friends especially — in between those people and the negative consequences of their selfish choices. Intervention is not easy to do or maintain, but if it is successful (as in my case), then it does indeed save the sinner from death and covers over a multitude of sins.

Perhaps there are people in your life who are near and dear to you but their lifestyle decisions are drastically affecting their relationships, work, and future. Evil triumphs and addictions destroy when good people say and do nothing. Don't be afraid to speak out after asking the Holy Spirit to grant you the right time, place, and words to say what needs to be said. In years to come, those very same people you are confronting may truly thank you for turning their lives around.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we let the world diminish our gifts of discernment because we don't like to be thought of as being judgmental. You, however, dealt with people straight-forwardly, candidly, and in love, when it came to confronting sin. Help us to help those who need to be challenged in order to change. Grant us the presence of Your Holy Spirit in our lives to lovingly and compassionately intervene. In Your holy name, we steadfastly pray. Amen.

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John Stuart <>
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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