“Oh, Now Let’s be Patient With Him — That’s Just who he is”
Someone who listened to one of my sermons in the Wise as Serpents series (you can find the series here) emailed me the following:
My friend told me about a church she had attended where the music minister was verbally abusive. Members would “pat the hand” of the abused and apologetically say, “Don’t be hurt by what he said. He’s a blunt, very direct speaking person. That’s just who he is.
This comment started my memory banks of personal experience churning. And thus, this post.
Over these three decades as a pastor, I have heard that same line many times — “It’s just who he/she is. Let’s love him/her anyway.” These kind of people pull out the “forgiving, gracious, patient” Bible verses to support their advice. For example, when I was the new pastor at a church, the choir director was an extremely abusive person. Power, control, manipulation — that was that name of the game. The simplest suggestion would send her into a fit of anger. Uh, hello? This person is LEADING the church in the worship of God!! Do you see a problem here? Nope. Let’s love her anyway.
One of the “pillars” of the church was related to her and one Sunday after the service (she had blown a cork in front of the sanctuary just before the service in front of many people) walked up to me and said, “Now, Jeff, we all know that [insert the woman’s name here] is a very bitter, angry person. But we choose to love her anyway. Let her do as she wants and there won’t be any problems. It’s just who she is.”
And I saw it in our first church too. Same scenario — church pianist was a lady who prided herself in her stubbornness, boasting that she was the “German general.” She taught a women’s “Bible” study each week in her home and announced regularly that it was HER ministry and that no one in the church had anything to say about it (though a good portion of the women in her study were also members of the church). “It’s just who she is, you know. But we choose to love her anyway.”
And of course I could give many other stories where men were the abusive culprits that “we resolve to just love as they are.”
Well, this is all absolutely bogus, totally opposed the the Word of God, flat out enablement of evil, and a denial of who a true Christian really is (and is not). Try these verses on for starters:
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. (Romans 8:5-9)
For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. (Romans 8:13-14)
See it? God’s Word says (in contradiction to what these people were saying) that who a person IS is revealed by what that person DOES. If a person is in fact characterized by outbursts of anger, by reviling speech toward others, by selfishness or jealousy, then that person is still living according to the flesh, their mind is hostile to God, they do not submit to God’s law, nor are they able to do so even in their minds! Simply put, they are not, in no way, a Christian. A Christian is a radically changed person whose very mindset has been absolutely altered by the regenerating work of the Spirit of Christ. The sons of God are led by the Spirit of God.
So what was the real problem of the two “worship leaders” I described above and so many others like them I have found in every church I have pastored? What was the true diagnosis. They were not saved. They were still children of wrath, dead in sin, energized by the flesh, without hope and without God in the world. Do you think that a harsh diagnosis? For myself, I find such clarity to be refreshing as it blows away all the fog of confusion such people sow among Christ’s people. There it is! Mr. or Mrs choir director. You aren’t saved! Who you ARE is revealed clearly by your actions. You must repent. You must step down from leading worship. You cannot worship the God you do not know, let alone lead others in doing so.
Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1John 2:4-6)
Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1John 2:9-11)
And on and on we could go, quoting more scriptures just like these.
What is wrong with the abuser? He is a child of the devil. For all of his “God-talk” and apparent “piety” he is unsaved, unregenerate, hostile to God, an enemy of Christ’s truth, and that is why he does what he does. And with this clarity in mind, what do you think now of the person who says “Oh yes, I know. He lashes out like that frequently. That’s just the way he is. But he is a brother in the Lord and we need to love him anyway”? I hope that your answer is “BALONEY! THAT IS A LIE! AND THAT IS CERTAINLY NOT LOVE!”
Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. (John 8:43-45)
Apparently Jesus our Lord didn’t buy it either. “Yep, that IS just the way she is. And if she doesn’t repent and come to genuine faith and be saved, she is going to end in hell.”
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