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Editor's journey

Stones are for Pharisees

 

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — My friend’s mistakes had cost him his reputation and his marriage. Pain and regret were etched in his face. His smile was tired. His laugh was forced.

I found myself bouncing between sadness and anger as I considered how the enemy had wreaked havoc in the man’s life.

He confided that he had repented of his sins and experienced Christ’s forgiveness, but finding acceptance within the body of Christ was another story.

“Forgiveness is swift,” I said. “Restoration, on the other hand, can take time.”

“Why does it have to be that way?” he asked.

I referred him to Matthew 3:8. “When you’ve fallen away,” I said, “it takes time to ‘produce fruit in keeping with repentance’ ” (NIV).

“Isn’t it enough that Jesus has forgiven me? Why do Christians have to keep throwing stones?” he said.

“First, stones are for Pharisees,” I said. “Jesus didn’t need stones. He spoke the truth in love, which convicted men and women of sin and set them free. Jesus’ goal was transformation-- — not prosecution.

“Second, try to understand that some believers simply don’t know how to respond to a person who has fallen. They’re often hurt and grappling with feelings of betrayal and disappointment.

“Third, this is an opportunity for you to ‘produce fruit’ by enduring a few stones of accusation and abandonment, rather than retaliating and starting a rock fight. Don’t defend your actions, shift responsibility, or fight back. Instead be quick to acknowledge your mistakes and ask forgiveness. Stay humble before the Lord and remain faithful. And allow Him to bring about full restoration.”

This edition’s Conversation (page 12) with recording artist Russ Taff illustrates that restoration can take place when we refuse to pick up stones and instead speak the truth in love. By his own admission, there was a time when Taff had grown lukewarm in his faith. His friends conducted a spiritual intervention and confronted him with his need for more of Jesus. That was the beginning of his spiritual renewal and re-emergence as a powerful minister of the gospel.

As believers, we can either pick up stones or lift up the fallen. It’s easier to throw stones, but far more productive and rewarding to extend the hand of friendship and say, “Jesus still loves you, and so do I.”

Hal Donaldson

E-mail your comments to tpe@ag.org.

4872 • 9/23/07

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