I told you not to hit.
My mother used to employ a parenting technique that I didn’t really understand until I was somewhat older. She would give my sister and I an instruction, and often, shortly afterwards one or both of us would disobey her instruction. In one particular example, I was eager to show my mother how obedient I was. I waited for the moment that my sister began to do what she wasn’t supposed to, and had the choice to either a) run to mother to tattle or, the usual winner, b) would try to “become the mother” to my sister who I knew was doing wrong. I would puff up and put her in her place, and would sometimes try to hit or spank my sister in an effort to discipline her for disobeying our mother’s rules. Hitting was a big no-no, and I knew that, but I was sure that she *deserved* to be hit or spanked because she had been disobedient. When my sister would go crying to my mother, I would watch, sure that my mother would reinforce the punishment I had bestowed upon her as soon as she realized that my sister had disobeyed. And then, my puffed up pride and arrogant smile would come crashing down when my mother would turn and discipline ME (ME!) for hitting my sister.
At the time, I had no idea how she could blindly look past the disobedience of my sister to correct my wrongdoing, SURELY she was mistaken. *I* was being good! *I* was keeping my sister in line! But, sure enough she would firmly tell me “It doesn’t matter what I told you sister to do or not do. I told *YOU* not to hit!” and that would be the end of that. What I didn’t realize was that after she had corrected me (and sent me away) she would deal with my sister for the disobedience issue between them, an issue that had nothing to do with me, really, and honestly would have been addressed regardless of whether I had taken on the attempt at judge and justice system or not.
What I learned was that another person’s behavior does not give me the license to step out of line or obedience. Regardless of how much or how little they are doing wrong, I am instructed with one primary instruction: love.
“God will overlook my hateful attitude because I am hating someone that is doing something he says not to do”,
“God will pat me on the back for embarrassing and shaming the person doing x, y, z because he told them not to do it in the first place”,
“God will understand that I do not love or accept the person with this sin in their lives because he told them not to take part in that sin in the first place”
Wrong. My mother was not omnipresent, but she sure knew exactly what was going on all the time, even if I didn’t think she could see it. God, who absolutely is omnipresent and knows not only our actions but our thoughts and our motives, knows what behavior people are involved in. He will address it with them if he feels like they are being disobedient when he sees fit, and more often than not, he doesn’t need you to step in and do his job for him.
“It doesn’t matter what I did or didn’t tell them, I told you not to hit.”
He told us to love. He told us to forgive. And he will address us any time we step over that line.
Perhaps instead of carrying the attitude that “CHRISTIANS SHOULDN’T _(fill in the blank)__”, we should adopt the phrase “The bible tells me that *I* shouldn’t ___(fill in the blank)_”, that way we are reminded that the only person we are ultimately responsible for is ourselves.
Loving someone who has a drug problem, or a faith problem, or a sex problem, or an idolatry problem, or any problem that God says is a problem does not mean you are overlooking the problem or agreeing that it is right…there were lots of times that I informed my sister in her disobedience “Hey…you might not want to do that, but I’m not going to stop you if you choose to.” It means that you trust that God (much like my mother) is going to deal with that person on his own, and that 1) their correspondence has little to do with you and 2) if you step out of your instruction to love your brothers and sisters, you will be right there in line for a spanking.