Sunday, January 27, 2019

From Ruth to Rich: Churches Need to Deal with Sin Compassionately and Wisely

As I read late Billy Graham’s Just As I Am (1997) autobiography, I’m encouraged by his wife, Ruth Bell, for her life, support, and works in the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association ministry. About Ruth, Billy writes, “God gave Ruth many, many gifts, one of which was writing.” I agree. In this series, I try to imagine (one of God’s greatest gifts to humankind) what would Ruth Bell says to encourage young man like me – and perhaps, you. I hope you enjoy it!

Dear Richard, my son,

My pet rabbit died abruptly (as pet rabbits have a way of doing). As a forlorn 8-year-old, in China, I buried him in our yard, lovingly digging a hole and covering him. Every day I dug him up to see how he was getting along. The last time I saw him he was green.

While I was growing up in China, someone in our greater mission family sinned, and I remember how quickly, quietly and effectively that situation was dealt with. Then the principle of “love covers” was applied. Not, like my pet rabbit, dug up again. And through the years in our own family, situations on occasion had to be faced, dealt with and buried. Churches need to deal the same way, wisely and compassionately with sin, and then love covers: “[Now] instead you should rather forgive and comfort him. This will keep him from being overwhelmed by excessive grief to the point of despair” (2 Corinthians 2:7).

However, my son, in those situations where some heresy, cult or con game operates under the name of Christianity, they need to be exposed so as to warn others and dealt openly! That is something different. But for those believers in God’s family, sins need to be dealt with promptly, compassionately, privately. Then silence, under the principle of “love covers.” Confront sin, yes, but also demonstrating God’s grace and mercy to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Do you understand this? I hope you do…

With love,
Ruth Bell Graham
(1920 – 2007)

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