LifeLink Devotions (Click here for Apple Podcast)
March 29, 2022
Let’s talk today about how we sometimes misapply Scripture to justify our personal practice of fault-finding. I heard a quote one time that stimulated my thinking on this problem. The speaker, whom I can’t identify, said simply, “Criticism and fault-finding are not spiritual gifts.” Some people must think they are because they are so good at them. They believe it is their life’s calling to point out the sin in others. They find some form of self-worth enhancement in the tearing down of others. Then, when the ego-high is no longer achieved, they move from personal accusations to social activism. Soon whole churches are involved in a nationwide movement of spiritual terrorism that destroys the testimony of God’s grace. They defend their position by misunderstanding what Ephesians 5:8-10 says.
“Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
The context of exposing the fruitless deeds of darkness is personal, not public. We are not called to wake up others, but to wake ourselves up so that the light of Christ can shine on us. We are called to expose the deeds of darkness that exist in us, not in others. It seems that some people believe that the evidence of spiritual maturity is the ability to be bold in the work of exposing sin publicly, both in people and in our society. It is usually not done with grace, and certainly not done with an eye towards the reconciliation of the sinner to God. It is done to tear people down to improve their own position. These people are not allowing the true Light of Jesus to shine on, in, or through them.
Thad Noyes, a blogger on a Christian website, says, “…It seems that some people are really good at tearing down, at exposing sin, at pointing out all that’s wrong. But they are lacking in grace and the ability to bring the healing power of the gospel into people’s lives. They can cut you open, but they can’t get the cancer out, let alone see that you heal. It is easier to tear down and destroy than to build back up. It is far easier to expose all that’s wrong than to constructively and winsomely model in our teaching and our lives how to live in a manner pleasing to the Lord. It is easier to play the part of the convicting prophet than to point people to the great high priest who can cleanse the conscience and forgive sin.”
In his book called Temple Builders, John R. Lucas writes, “As we progress towards truth, towards maturity, towards spiritual discernment – there will lay ahead a trap. As we see error and immaturity in OTHERS, there will be an opportunity to respond to the error and immaturity in a way that does not please God. We will be tempted to point out this error and immaturity to other mature believers or whoever will listen to us, thus becoming a BUSYBODY. We must mind our own affairs before God.”
My friends, be careful. “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness” is not a call to social separatism. The statement “but rather expose them” is not a command to social activism. It is a call for the disciples of Jesus Christ to let the full intensity of His light shine in our own hearts and expose any form of darkness that exists there to the light’s healing power. Wake up, you who are sleeping and living in conformity to death. Let Christ shine on every part of your life.