I all too often sinfully respond to those who sin against me (especially with my wife and children). Why is this? Maybe I feel like I have the “right” to respond sinfully since the other person initiated the battle. Or maybe I feel wronged and so I try to defend myself by getting angry and pointing out what’s wrong with the other person; therefore, taking the situation and completely blowing it up! Whatever it is…Sinning when sinned against is wrong and it goes against the gospel of Christ Jesus.
James points out the problem with sinful responses, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19)
I read a blog post yesterday by Rick Thomas, an insightful Biblical Counselor, that really convicted me. Here it is…
“A few days ago I found out something that my daughter was doing. Rather than responding the way Christ always responds to me, I raised my voice in anger and disappointment. She did not receive redemptive care from her daddy. She received my unkind punishment.
She fully felt the disappointment in my voice. Rather than asking her questions to draw her out in order to gain her perspective, I elevated my voice and lectured her on her sin. She was in a hopeless place. I put her there. God never puts us in a hopeless place when we sin.
In that moment I disqualified myself from helping her. Her sin was swept away by my sin. She was no longer thinking about her sin. She was thinking about and focused on my sin. She was forced to think about me and my displeasure in her.
My sin trumped her sin in that moment. In football parlance, it is called “piling on.” The penalty for piling on happens when a player has been tackled, the play is over, but a player from the opposing team jumps on the pile.In such cases there is a 15-yard penalty. The player did not have the sense or the self-control to see the situation for what it was. Rather than thinking and stopping, he piles on the pile.
Rather than recognizing the situation for what it was, I chose to bull my way through to make my points. My twisted thinking in the moment was that I could force righteousness on my daughter through manipulative fear tactics…
This approach did not work. She never got past my anger. Her thoughts were not on what she had done wrong, why she did wrong, or how she could have done better. She was thinking about the big person in the room who was displeased with her.
I blew a redemptive moment with my daughter. Have you ever blown a redemptive moment with a child, spouse, or friend? Can you think of a time when someone sinned against you and you sinned back? That is what I am talking about.
Whenever a person responds sinfully to someone else’s sin, he is effectively disqualified from helping the original sinner. While it is true that sin should be punished, sinful anger has never been God’s method for punishment.
For example, when Adam sinned the Father’s choice for punishment was to provide a sacrifice for the guilty sinner. He chose to become part of the solution rather than being part of the problem.
Though the Father could have registered His complaint against Adam, He did something counter-intuitive. He did something profound. He gave us the Gospel. Rather than making justifiable demands, He mapped out a plan to redeem a bad person from a bad situation.
Christ was the Father’s method for redemption.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8 (ESV)
Some may argue that I did not disqualify myself from helping my daughter, even though I did respond sinfully to her. My objection to that argument would be for you to ask my daughter about my ability to help her in that moment.
She would disagree with you. In fact, I have asked her in times past what she thinks about when I get angry with her. Here is what she told me:
Daddy, when you get angry with me, my mind shuts down. I don’t know how to think or how I should respond. I get nervous. It makes me afraid and I cannot think.
Will you ask your child or spouse a similar question? Will you ask them how your sin to their sin affects theoriginal problem at hand? When my children sin, I have one of two options to choose from:
- I can choose to sin in response to their sin.
- I can choose to apply the Gospel when they sin.
If I do the former, then I immediately disqualify myself from walking them through whatever sin issue they committed. If I choose the latter, then I am in a position to be an effective minister of reconciliation for their good, my good, and for the glory of God.”