When people you love take paths away from what they know is right, away from good character, away from God, any questioning of behavior or attitudes becomes an argument about acceptance. This is a cunning strategy of the enemy that keeps everyone confused and in turmoil, if allowed.
You question destructive behavior in someone you love. They respond, “You don’t accept me. Jesus accepted everyone. I’m living my life. Why don’t you respect me?”
No matter what, we can love and accept children, parents, family, friends, anyone.
What you may have a hard time doing when destructive behavior is involved is approve of that behavior or condone it by joining in or looking the other way. Approving may reduce conflict and enable you to be close to the person again. But, if you approve of something wrong that is hurting the person, you could be kicking the can down the road.
Misery loves company
When you are engaging in attitudes, behaviors, or anything that is hurtful, ungodly, you want company. You don’t want to be around people that are not engaging in the same things. They are a bore and irritating reminder of what you should be doing. Even if they are not saying a word, their very presence is unwanted.
Say one word of warning or correction, and out comes the “you don’t accept me” script.
People following the world’s path away from what they know is true will push away from the parent, friend, teacher, co-worker that is calling out the behavior, speaking truth in love. They may even taunt and mock.
If you are not careful, you may get caught up in a battle that leads to sleepless nights and hard feelings. It’s not a matter of education when someone is running down the wide path that knows what is good and what is bad. They know what they are doing and have chosen to not listen or heed what they’ve already been taught.
Jesus models everything about how to interact with people
If you’ll read the Gospels with intent of taking notes on how Jesus dealt with people, you’ll have the basic outline for how to navigate relationships of every sort with love and peace. The peace part is vital. If you are not careful, you’ll lose your peace fretting over and fighting with the person you love that’s off course.
- Jesus accepted and interacted with everyone he encountered
- He showed compassion and mercy to anyone coming to him in humility
- Jesus often healed people who were not coming in humility, but he didn’t condone their bad behavior. He told the woman caught in adultery to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11). He told the cripple by the pool to “pick up your mat and go” (Mark 2: 8 – 11).
- He didn’t chase after those who contradicted him or refused to accept his message or him
- Jesus never argued with anyone. He spoke truth either plain and simple or in parables, based on the situation.
- Jesus didn’t evaluate whether or not individuals or communities deserved his gifts or would accept him in advance. He was on a mission to teach and help as many as he could on the way to Jerusalem where he would die. If he showed up and people rejected him, he left. If they welcomed him, he’d stay for a while teaching and healing.
When someone you love is in trouble, on the wrong path, you want to help them and teach them the way back. Referencing Jesus’ manner and methods, keep loving them, but don’t chase them or reward bad behavior. It’s so hard to do. Most importantly, keep praying. Pray day and night. Ask others to pray with you. Fast for the sake of the one you love and then pray during the fast.
Only the Holy Spirit can get their attention. If they at some time in the past claimed Christ as savior, the Holy Spirit is in them. Pray that Jesus would release the creative power of the Holy Spirit in that person to reveal truth to them and bring them to understanding.