Question:

My heart is heavy.† My sister and her husband are no longer in the church. They have chosen a worldly lifestyle, and tell their children, one of whom is baptized, that they donít need to go to church to get to heaven and that churches are full of hypocrites.† Her heart has hardened and she has turned into a different person. I believe she has a problem with prescription drugs and alcohol.† My parents really didnít understand what was wrong with her, they just knew she acted differently and had stopped going to church and rebuked her.† She has said horrible things to them and no longer speaks speaks to them. She will not even look at them if she sees them at public events.†

I used to partake in some of the things they were doing when I was at their home. I know that it was wrong, and I was not setting a good example.†I knew I was being a hypocrite.† After she stopped speaking to my parents, we have had some pretty heated confrontations that I feel guilty about it. She has really talked bad about me to other people, mostly lies, and we no longer speak.† It is a bad situation. I miss my sister but not the person she has become.† Should I write her a letter telling her that I have not been a good example and have repented, knowing she will just lash out at me again, or should I go in front of the church, even though I think God has already forgiven me?


Answer:

The problem started long before your sister's family left the church. Your sister was living a lie. She was sinning but pretending nothing was wrong by going to church. Others who knew they were in sin also looked the other way, pretending everything was fine, as long as they continued to come to church. Thus it was much like the church at Corinth: "It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles--that a man has his father's wife! And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you" (I Corinthians 5:1-2). The type of sin is different, but the problem of dealing with on going sin remains the same.

Your sister has become more consistent. She is in the wrong, but she has stopped pretending that she is good. She knows she is wrong. That is why she snaps at any reminder of the ruin she is making of her life.

Your life is written evidence of who you are, not what others might say about you. Ignore any rumors. Instead, live in such a way that no one would believe the rumors. "Having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation" (I Peter 2:12).

Do write and apologize to your sister. Also tell her that you'll be waiting for her return after she leaves her sins. What she does with your letter is her business. You don't determine whether an action is right or wrong based on how others might react. If that were the case, Jesus should have never told the Jews the truth since it caused them to send him to the cross. You focus on doing the right things and improving yourself. Meanwhile, you can't make your sister straighten out, so you have to go on with life and be prepared to welcome her back if she ever does change.