Several years ago, I became acquainted with a man through a mutual friend. He was an unbeliever, and seemed genuinely interested in a friendship, even though he is much older. He was wealthy, but the prime example of it not bringing happiness. I’ve watched him spend money over the years, seeming to pay off people to get closer to him, even his own family. But it hasn’t worked, he is still as sad and lonely as ever.
I really feel like he figured that people he was generous to might be willing to overlook his opinionated, selfish, obstinate, self-promoting, arrogant, and borderline racist interactions to be his friend or family. But it hasn’t worked, for 80 years, here he is alone and sad and it doesn’t even seem to phase him. In fact, even in my attempt to win him to Christ, I am hesitant to go places with him in public because I am embarrassed at what he might say. I don’t want my own reputation tarnished by others thinking I tolerate his behavior and language, and I certainly don’t want anyone to think it is somehow something I endorse or support.
Recently, while we were driving back from a dinner together, he was on a long rant about something, and when he finally took a breath, I changed the subject. We chatted about that subject a few minutes and then he paused quietly for a few moments and said to me “oh, I see what you did there,” referencing me changing subjects. He then apologized and we continued down our new path of conversation.
It was kind of humorous to me, this wasn’t at all the first time I had done it, just the first time he caught it. I choose, even though I am trying to win him to Christ, meeting him where he is, to not give him any impression that I support unhealthy speech, beliefs, or opinions. So I always change the conversation.
Paul in Romans 1:32, following the discussion of God allowing people who know truth but choose sin to be free to make their own choices, now addresses those who stand by as though they are deaf and dumb, their silence mistaken for approval.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. Romans 1: 28-32
We live in a time in history where Christians have chosen to be silent, allowing the world to think we consent to sin. In fact, many have succumbed to supporting sins that has become culturally acceptable in an effort to avoid being singled out publicly.
Translations of verse 32 fall short of what it would seem Paul was warning. Literally translated, Paul speaks of those who live this sinful life as being worthy of death, but not just them, but also those who consent to, allow, or find pleasure in their lifestyle. In other words… those who just go along with it, laugh it off, or act like it isn’t happening.
This sin IS happening, and it is our responsibility as committed believers to make sure no one could ever believe that we accept sin, of any kind, in any person.
Trust me when I say I know it is hard. “These people” are friends, family, our children, our parents, and so on and so forth. It won’t be easy, but rarely is the “right thing” in this day and age. But the reason it is hard to do is because as a culture we have become silent on matters of Godliness and have “dimmed our light” and “unflavored our salt.” Salt and light will always expose sin and only when Believers make their displeasure with sin known will we ever have a chance of seeing a culture turn towards Godliness once again. It starts with me, the Light in me. And if enough of us shine our light, unsilenced our light, it will be the darkness that disappears. Imagine a world like that.
Dr. Ronald Barnes
September 28, 2022