Saturday, May 7, 2011

OPS (Other Peoples' Sins)

Sometimes the sins of others have a sanctifying effect on us. You can see hatred manifested in a dramatically horrible way, and it can so impact you that the next time you are tempted to lash out, you feel the twinge of pain that you felt when you observed that other act of hatred. It brings revulsion and repentance to your soul, and you simply say, “God help me, but I cannot go there, even though my heart sometimes wants to take me there.” It is both a sad and a glorious thing.

In 1 Corinthians we find the story of a church that was filled with various kinds of sins: sins of immorality, sins of dis-fellowship, sins of pride and arrogance, sins of theological defection, and more besides. Paul wrote this letter and in the providence of God it has been preserved for our edification and instruction. What do we get from it? Many things. But one thing we certainly get from the letter is that the sins of others are displayed so that we might learn from them not to do them. The sins of the Corinthians can have a sanctifying impact on us.

The same is true in our contemporary fellowship with believers and in our relationships with non-believers, both within and outside the church. You observe someone’s flash of anger in church and realize how much pain that has caused to a child observing it, and it makes you aware of how your own anger can be destructive. Someone you know asserts himself with arrogance and pride and that assertion brings disrepute to the cause of Christ in a community, and that makes you recognize that your own pride can do the very same thing. You are stunned to find that someone in your circle of friends has fallen prey to sins of sensuality, and at first it makes you want to be critical, and that is probably something that is appropriate, but it also reminds you that we are all vulnerable and that we can all fall prey to temptation. So, we humble ourselves before God and ask for grace and mercy.

We need to pray for one another that we will find sanctification, “without which no one shall see God” (Hebrews 12:14). We need to seek the holiness of the Lord in our own lives. At the same time, we can learn much from the sins of others. In playing pool, you often “go to school on the other guy’s shot.” We can do the same in life.

Chad Owen Brand

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