The other day I was involved in a discussion about how we can knowingly or unknowingly tempt others to sin. What is our responsibility in that situation? Interesting discussion!
One person shared a verse from James 1:14 – “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” In their view this verse excuses us from much responsibility. Now James does have a fair point here of course. People do have a choice, to give in to the temptation/entertain the thought, or not! But does this exempt me from responsibility?
If I know someone who has difficulty with being, frankly, a glutton, should I offer them a large serve of chips and a whole block of chocolate? If someone has a problem with anger, should I provoke them by luring them into a heated debate? If someone, by virtue of being male, is tempted by images of scantily dressed females should I make the effort to wear more modest, less figure hugging clothes? If someone is an avid gossiper should I mention some tasty little bit of information to them, out of turn?
In seeking godly wisdom for this dilemma, Paul reminded me in his letter to the Galatians (6:1-2) that: ” . . . if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (NIV)
Also in Philippians we read: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (James 2:3-4)
This is how the law of Christ is fulfilled! This is the law of love, lived out when we consider that each of us carry burdens, and the heaviest burden is sin. Paul commands us to carry each other’s burdens. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” (1 John 3:16). (See the post in the Three Sixteens.)
We carry each others burdens best when we remember that we are part of the Body of Christ. We are part of a larger unit of people who need each other, and should support each other, just as the different organs and limbs in our physical bodies do. We are a living system and we are to seek the good of others in that system. I don’t think God intends us to struggle alone with our sin, without help. Let’s look around and consider what burdens others are carrying, and help them by being mindful of their weakness. We can even pray for them! And if it means we have to change something about ourselves, our actions, then so be it. Just because we aren’t responsible for other people’s sinful actions doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider them ‘better’ enough to help carry their burden. Let’s spur each other on to love and good deeds (not more sin).
I now feel compelled to, most daringly, turn this whole thing around and back on to me.
Does this all mean that I, a sinner saved by grace, should be honest enough and vulnerable enough with others to let them know my struggles with sin? Am I willing to do that? If I don’t, aren’t I preventing others from fulfilling the law of Christ. What do you think?
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