Question:

Hello again.

I have gotten baptized, making a move to a more sound church, and have helped those closest too me in some Christian matters. However, I am still wondering how to live out Ezekiel 3:18-21 when I see so many people out in public that I don't really know sinning. I especially don't know what to do when it is group of people doing something. Those kinds of situations don't seem like the right timeto go talk to people about Christianity and themselves being in sin. I wouldcertainly like to help, but Iknow I can't be everywhere at once, and I don't know how effectual a one time conversation could be.

Your advice would really be appreciated.


Answer:

Congratulations on becoming a Christian!

If you don't know whether a person is sinning, it would be wrong to state that they are doing something that you are ignorant of.

What the world needs is people to remind them to think about God and righteousness. If someone happens to mention that they are living together without being married, I will likely ask them why they chose not to get married. For the most common answers, such as "we can't afford it," I'll point out that this can't be true since marriage would not change that particular "reason." In the example, since they are already living together, being married won't change their cost of living. If I can, I'll try to bring God into the discussion, but even if I can't, I at least got the person to realize that sin is often unreasonable.

To do something like this in front of others is even better because the message has now reached the ears of others and will cause them to think as well. Usually one small point will lead to another until time runs out. This is why I post the questions and answers on La Vista's site. Others learn from the questions brought up and one question leads to other questions and a chance to show that being a Christian is not strange or impossible.

Basically, when you realize that someone is sinning, ask a few questions to get a feel for why they would think that sin is justified and then make mention of a reason that their justification isn't really sound. If you can, back up your point by mentioning something God said in the Bible so it isn't just your word against theirs.

You are planting seeds that may later sprout and bring forth a harvest. "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase" (I Corinthians 3:6). What God was telling Ezekiel was not to pass up opportunities. Too often we decide before we open our mouth that the person is going to reject whatever we say, and so to avoid a conflict we say nothing. God wants us to say something and how they respond is up to them. You, at least, gave them an opportunity to think about their situation.

I had been praying about this issue just a few hours ago one of my best Christian friends told me that that command was specifically for Ezekiel because he was being appointed. So what do you make of that? He also pointed out a verse in the New Testament about we (Christians) teaching and warning all in wisdom. I think the verse is in Corinthians. I, as an individual, can't reach all people, so I imagine that the "we" indicates that it is an assignment for the Christian church as a whole and not each individual Christian will reach all people.

I think I should state right now that I need help on the wisdom part. It seems to me that the most effective way to preach the Gospel is to make friends and continually talk and be an example to them. A verse comes to mind about iron sharpening iron and people sharpening people when I try to do this.

However the issue arises in situations like, I am on my way to meet with person A whom I have befriended and is not yet a Christian but, on the way to person A I see or hear person B sinning then person C and so on. If I go help person B or C I ignore person A and any other persons whom I know need help in the area of sin. Situations like this occur every day at my public school. Normally I just continue on to person A and not say anything about sin to the other people. So I wonder if I am at penalty for not reaching out to others.

Also some situations don't always seem to be the wisest to bring up Christian matters, such as I am the only Christian in the vicinity of several non-Christians who could just press their non-Christian views on each other when I bring it up. Or someone has made open remarks about not wanting to deal with Christianity with some anger in their voice. Also Jesus when talking about correcting others said "your brother", so that makes me think that only those closest to you, like a friend, would be comfortable with having you correct them.

Sorry for the confusing speech, I like to get specific. Thank you for your time.

Yes, the command was to Ezekiel, but that doesn't mean we can learn from it. "For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope" (Romans 15:4). The lesson from Ezekiel is that we can't say it's someone else's job.

The verse you are referring to is "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord" (Colossians 3:16).

Name one person who has taught everyone. Even Jesus sent his disciples out to teach. The command of Jesus, however, still stands. ""Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen" (Matthew 28:19-20). We each teach those we come in contact with, thereby the message spreads throughout the world. The command is to each individual to do his part.

What you are doing is trying to look at the whole, deciding you have to do it all, knowing it is an overwhelming task. "Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest" (Matthew 9:37-38). We each contribute to the work, some doing one thing while someone else does something different. "Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: 'One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors" (John 4:35-38). Where you can't reach a person, someone else might. You may plant an idea that someone else waters and it takes off. "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase" (I Corinthians 3:6-7).

A part of teaching people is getting them to realize that they have a need. They are in sin and Jesus provides a solution. If they are convinced they are doing nothing wrong, then of course they won't change. A part of what the Holy Spirit did was bring a message that would "convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (John 16:8). If you tell someone that what they are doing or planning to do is wrong, but don't offer them a way out of that sin, then you haven't done them a favor by bringing the matter up. And if someone doesn't want to hear the gospel from you, then move on to someone who does, and pray that someone else might get through to a person you weren't able to convince.

"But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load. Let him who is taught the word share in all good things with him who teaches. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:3-10).