See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. Hebrews 3:12-14
Imagine if you saw a person down on their luck pickpocketing in a convenience store. Or what if you were confronted with a judgmental restaurant manager asking someone to leave due his or her appearance or the color of their skin. Maybe you’re in the park and come across a group of bullies berating a socially outcast teen or vandalizing a car.
Would you speak up or keep quiet? Would you jump into action or stay in the background? Would you right the wrong or ignore what you are seeing? What would you do? These questions serve as the premise for a fascinating show on ABC called Primetime: What Would You Do? Hidden cameras capture how people react when they’re thrust into real-life ethical scenarios. Will they step in or mind their own business? The show reflects on how people respond when faced with dilemmas that test their character and values.
When I watch this show, I like to picture myself righting every wrong. Almost out of instinct, I become the defender of justice. Without fear, I stand up to the bully and have compassion on the less fortunate. From my cozy couch nowhere close to the chaos, I look down upon those who fold under pressure or turn a blind eye to what they are encountering.
There is no way I’d react that way, or so I think. The reality is, on an almost daily basis, I find myself in “mute” mode when I come across scenarios where I need to speak up. The hardest thing to come to grips with is that I’m not speaking of just pretend, staged dilemmas like on the television show. These are real-life situations that my friends and family are facing.
I silently watch as others around me make bad choices, engage in destructive behaviors and continue to remain blind to their struggles. I sit on the sidelines as I see loved ones wrestling with anger, resentment and bitterness. Yes, I might pray for them, but rarely do I voice my thought or utter my concerns. So, in the midst of my silence, these individuals, the people I say I love and care about, continue along the destructive path none the wiser.
Chances are good; you are much like me. You don’t tend to say anything when you see someone engaging in destructive behaviors. Rather than dealing with the mess, you avoid the awkwardness. When a friend repeatedly talks about decisions they are making that you know are misguided, you nod in agreement or let the awkwardness of it all get the better of you and remain quiet. If you care about someone, the temptation is to avoid telling the truth, especially if you know the truth will hurt. We are quiet all in the name of love, but our silence speaks volumes about how much we genuinely care for the individual who is engaging in harmful behavior or desperately searching for God.
As believers, we are called to speak the truth in love. We are urged to live differently where we care more about a person’s heart than the friendship we often try so hard to protect.
The author of Hebrews urges us to be on the lookout for each other. In essence, he is saying that my spiritual business is your spiritual business and vice versa. Your relationship with God might be personal, but it was never intended to be private. Every one of us needs a few people to tell us the truth about our heart as well as check our blind spots when we’re getting off track with our motives.
- In what relationship, do you need to go “all in”? How would this relationship change if you did?
Lord, may I put it all on the line when it comes to my relationships. Help me to care more about my friend’s character than their friendship. Use me to encourage and spur them on to reflect Your heart. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.