“Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” Ephesians 5:4 (ESV)
All of us love to hang out with, good friends. There is nothing like spending an evening in a home, or perhaps a restaurant, or even in the church, with people we love and trust. Laughter, joy, and sharing make for a fun time, and when the evening is over, we feel really good about having spent it with our Christian friends.
But have you ever experienced a time when there was questionable conversation? Everything was going well, you were relaxed and comfortable, and feeling safe with people just like you, Christians. And then you hear a word, or an exclamation, or maybe a joke, and your fun time suddenly stops. Your moral compass has been alerted. That quick nudge in your spirit has you immediately at attention, waiting to hear an explanation, or an apology, or just something. Surely something will be said that will ease your tension, that will make things comfortable again, that will put your unrest to rest. But it doesn’t come. What did you do?
I am sure you have experienced it. I know I have. And I know from speaking with friends that they too have been in that quandary. I call it a quandary because that is exactly what it is. There must be an action taken to resolve it, for good or bad. Something has to happen to correct or undo what has been said or done. But in this type of situation, who should take that action?
We, as Christians, are the ones who must take action. If we sit quietly, ignoring the offense, then we are, in a very real sense, saying that moral values are of no value at all. We condone the infraction.
But we can make a choice. We can speak up against the dirty jokes or sexual statements, or we can keep quiet and allow the offense to slide by. When we choose the latter, we are participating in the sin. Since we are to edify one another, addressing this issue is the right and good thing to do–if done in Christian love.
In 1 Corinthians 5:9-13, Paul teaches us to be on guard against sin:
I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.'”
If we permit sin in our lives we are “sons of disobedience”. Paul tells us we cannot be effective disciples of Christ if we are partners in sin. We must discern the sin, and take steps to move away from its influence. It is dangerous for Christians to be exposed to it, and even more dangerous if we do not take a stand against it. It is our duty, and our privilege, as followers of Christ, to be the example to others, both saved and lost, and remove ourselves from any appearance of evil. If we allow it, out of fear of persecution or the need to fit in, then we are partners in the offense, which is an offense against our Lord, Christ Jesus.
“Therefore, do not become partners with them, for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:7-10
When have you spoken up for truth and righteousness, even though it was difficult?