Scripture Reading: Exodus 32:15-35
If we want to help set others free from sin, at some point we must deal with their sin. But the way we deal with it makes all the difference in the world.
We can learn a lesson from the way Moses dealt with the sin of his people when they created a golden calf and began to worship it.
Moses was hot with anger at their sin, and God called Moses to administer justice to the people. But even in Moses’ righteous anger, he only took things as far as God told him to―and no further. Even more important, he showed his true heart for God and for the people, by offering his own life as a willing sacrifice in their place.
Take a look at what Moses said the day after he had to administer God’s justice to the people:
“The next day Moses said to the people, ‘You have committed a great sin. But now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.’ So Moses went back to the LORD and said, ‘Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin―but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written’ ” (Exodus 32:31-32).
Moses had done what God had told him to do, but his words reveal the heart from which he had done it. He admitted that the people had sinned, not glossing over it, not trying to minimize it, but acknowledging that it was great indeed. But he also called on God to forgive their sin, adding that if God wouldn’t forgive them, then to please blot his own name out of God’s book.
Moses was able to effectively execute justice because he was also willing to take the same punishment upon himself as what might have come to those who had sinned. He didn’t come against them as one who was merely outraged by their actions, even though he was outraged. He came to them as one who was also willing to stand in the gap for them.
Doesn’t that sound like someone else in the Bible? It sounds to me like Jesus.
It sounds exactly like what Jesus did for us when he willingly died on the cross. He hadn’t done anything wrong. In fact, He had done everything right. But because of His great love for us, He was willing to take upon Himself the punishment that we rightfully deserved for our sin.
This is the kind of heart that God wants us to have when He calls us to deal with other people’s sin: a heart full of love. I’ve been in situations where I haven’t had this kind of heart. But I’ve known that I’ve needed to do whatever it took to get this kind of heart before I would be able to effectively confront the sin in another person’s life.
Even though we can’t die in the place of others, as Jesus did, we can have hearts that are willing to do so. We can have the same kind of heart that Jesus had. We can walk with people through their struggles. We can talk with them as they try to find their way out. We can listen to them as they anguish over the very real, and sometimes very precious things they may need to leave behind in order to get free. We can ask God’s forgiveness for them, even when they repeatedly make mistakes on their road to recovery.
The Bible says that Jesus is the only one who can condemn any of us, but instead of condemning us, He’s sitting at the right hand of God, praying for us (see Romans 8:34).
That’s the kind of heart God wants us to have for others when we deal with their sin. A heart that can feel the pain that God feels when people sin, but a heart that is also willing to stand in the gap for them when they do. God wants us to deal with sin from a heart full of love―a heart just like Jesus.
Want to learn more? You can watch a podcast with more discussion about this topic below.