by Rayola Kelley
Q: I know the Bible warns Christians not to be partakers of other men’s sins, and outward acts of sin are easy to identify. What I would like you to explain is how a Christian can partake of other people’s sins in less obvious ways. Thank you for any help you can give me on this subject.
A: I appreciate your question. Many Christians struggle with this very issue. They want to be kind and compassionate with people, but sometimes kindness and compassion can feed the problem, rather than address it in a proper manner.
There are two forms of sin: commission and omission. Commission is when one transgresses the Law or covenant of God, while omission is when one omits being upright or doing right in a situation. Where the greatest offense of partaking of the sins of others for well-meaning Christians comes, is along the line of omission. Sins of omission often involve pride and unbelief. When pride is present, it often involves the sins of jealousy and idolatry: when unbelief is present in a person’s life, you will find yourself placating its various forms such as insecurity and fear.
There are various ways in which Christians can innocently partake of another’s sin in the area of omission. The beauty about being innocent in a situation is that God does not hold us accountable for what we do not understand. However, if we become aware of a sin problem, we must cease to partake of it. Here are the ways in which we can partake of the sins of others:
False Way (Psalm 119:104, 128): It is not unusual for people to play games to get their desired responses from others. However, such games are wicked because they create a false way or environment that is self-serving and omits godly, honorable attitudes and trustworthy conduct. Individuals who play the games with these people often feed their arrogance. If these people’s arrogance is being fed, they will never see the need to repent because they are being justified by the exaltation that is taking place. As believers, we must hate and flee every false way in order to ensure the integrity of something. Scriptural and spiritual integrity will always demand that a person choose the excellent way of righteousness.
Avoiding Temptation: We must avoid taking sides in a matter that we have no personal knowledge of. Proverbs 18:13 tells us it is folly and shame to make our opinion known when we have not heard both sides of a matter. When there is conflict, it is not a matter of who is right or wrong; rather, it is a matter of what the Lord wants to do in a situation. As Christians, we are in a ministry of reconciliation, not of judging a matter. The only reason we may hear about a matter is for the sole purpose of encouraging or challenging the one with the offense to choose the excellent ways of God to ensure character. If we simply hear another’s complaints without having the intent of bringing instruction or reconciliation to the person, we will be partaking of the sin of gossip or slander. Such sin plants seeds of discord among the brethren, a sin God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19).
Offenses: The Bible is clear offense will come (Matthew 18:7). Once again, the temptation is to take offense due to pride and misunderstandings. The Bible is clear about how to confront such offense. If a person has personally offended you, you must personally go to him or her in meekness and brotherly love to seek proper understanding, bring Scriptural instruction where needed, and reconciliation. Confrontations of this nature will always be for the sake of the one who has offended you, not so you can set the record straight. Such humility will also ensure that you will not fall into the same sin (2 Timothy 2:24-26). Godly love will also cover such offenses (1 Peter 4:8). However, to take offense for someone else is unscriptural. Such offenses become a cause and will not only set the individual up to partake of the sin of another, but will cause him or her to look foolish in the end.
As Christians, we must abide by the Bible if we are going to ensure the integrity of our lives and conduct. We must avoid at all cost partaking of personal sin or the sins of others. After all, God cannot bless a matter when there is sin in the camp.