Friday, April 6, 2012

When Providing Comfort Can Be Sinful

“They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. 
‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace” 
Jeremiah 6:14 (NIV)

There are few activities more beneficial to the Christian church than the comfort we receive from fellow believers. But there are times when 'comfort' can be the most damaging thing you could ever do.

When I was in my late teens I became very angry with the church I was attending. I openly criticized the pastor to several within the church. When he confronted me about it, I criticized him rudely to his face. The next Sunday he responded by calling me out by name in a sermon. True, that was unwise and unloving on his part, but the fact is that I was in sin.

After the service, and in the weeks that followed, many big-hearted believers came to 'comfort' me. Most of them said things like, "Don't worry Josh, you're doing just fine. Just ignore what the Pastor said." Other 'encouraged' me by saying, "Your a godly young man Josh! Don't let anyone tell you anything different!".

The problem was that I wasn't godly. Not in the least.

A few weeks later an older couple invited me out for Sunday lunch. During the meal the man looked at me and said he wanted to talk about what the Pastor did to me several Sundays back. But instead of offering me 'comfort', as I expected, he issued a challenge.

"Josh, I am not defending our Pastor's actions. I think that was unwise. But I know you enough that I can see a lot of pride, anger, and rebellion in your life. Perhaps you shouldn't have been confronted publicly, but you need to be confronted. Pastor loved you enough to tell you that you need Christ. I love you enough to tell you the same thing."

All those other believers were 'comforting' me. The problem was they were comforting me in my sin, instead of challenging me to depart from sin.

Never put a band-aid on serious wounds, and never pretend peace when sin is at war within a fellow-believer's heart.

1 comment:

  1. So true. Notice that the challenging brother gave it with ameasure of sweetness and love. The medicine is often bitter but a spoonful of sugar... Thanks for your honesty - also not easy but so healing!