What is that to you?

It’s a scenario I’ve witnessed too many times.

Christian A does something that Christian B doesn’t agree with.  What Christian A did wasn’t sinful, but it’s something that Christian B has been convicted differently about.  Christian B confronts Christian A about “being in sin” and things go downhill from there.  Best case scenario: they agree to disagree, but there is still an underlying tension.  However, all too often, there will be hard feelings and the relationship ends up disintegrating.

Let’s put it in more concrete terms: Christian A, “Audrey”, feels led by God to buy a motorcycle.  Christian B, “Beatrice”, disagrees with Audrey’s purchase.  Buying a motorcycle isn’t inherently sinful, but a couple months previous, Beatrice had been convicted to get rid of her motorcycle.  Because of this, Beatrice feels that means God must want everyone to get rid of their motorcycles and anyone who doesn’t, must be “in sin”.  Thinking this, Beatrice confronts Audrey about the sinfulness of her motorcycle purchase.  Audrey tries to explain how she felt that God was leading her to buy the motorcycle and how she had sought counsel from several other strong believers who had agreed that it seemed God was leading her to do so.  Beatrice, however, can’t see past the fact that God convicted her very differently and so accuses Audrey of things like “being blinded by her sin”, “not being led by the Spirit”, “being in rebellion”, etc.  The discussion may or may not continue from there, but unless Beatrice has a major change of heart, it won’t end well.

It may seem silly to think of all of that drama over something as trivial as a motorcycle, but if we stop for a moment, I’m guessing we can all think of similar scenarios we’ve witnessed or been a part of.  I know that for me, I’ve been on both sides — I’ve been both an Audrey, and sadly, a Beatrice.  And while this is not something I say lightly, I am pretty confident that situations like that grieve the heart of God. When Jesus prayed that His followers be one, just as He and the Father are One (John 17:21-23), I don’t think that’s what He had in mind.

I think part of our problem is that we have a God Whose creativity is so vastly beyond our comprehension, and we can’t handle it.  He has a plan for each of our lives, and because our God is so creative, each plan is unique and particularly suited to each person.  But honestly, I think a lot of us get a little miffed if someone else’s plan doesn’t look very similar to our own.  “But wait, if what God told her is so different than what He told me, does that mean her’s is better?!” In the scenario I described earlier,  God had amazing plans for both Audrey and Beatrice — each of them specifically suited to bring Him glory.  The only thing was…Audrey’s plan involved a motorcycle and Beatrice’s didn’t.  It sounds simple enough,  but so often such a difference can bring about so much unnecessary division if we don’t have eyes to see and recognize God at work in other believers’ hearts.

We need to have eyes to see and recognize God at work...

Please don’t get me wrong — I’m certainly not saying that we all just go our merry way, doing whatever we want.  I believe strongly in what Hebrews 3:13 tells us: “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today’, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”  I believe that part of this includes “if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness” (Galatians 6:1). But honestly, in many of the situations I’ve seen, the person being confronted isn’t actually sinning!  It’s just that God gives differing convictions to different believers about issues and situations that aren’t clearly outlined in Scripture.  And we need to be able to recognize that and, hopefully, rejoice in it.

Now, with Audrey and Beatrice, here’s what hopefully will happen: Audrey feels led by God to buy a motorcycle.  Beatrice, who a couple months ago felt like God was leading her to get rid of her motorcycle, recognizes that God has different plans for different believers’ lives and that often means differing convictions.   As Audrey’s sister in Christ, Beatrice exhorts her regarding possible sin issues that might come with purchasing a motorcycle (pride, materialism, etc.), but then rejoices with Audrey that she is following God’s leading .  Supporting each other in their differing paths, they can do so much more for God’s glory than if they were continually at odds because their paths didn’t look the same.

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” (John 21:20-22, emphasis mine)

Jessica Telian
A wife and mama who loves her life of learning to know her Father, loving her amazing husband and babies, and keeping her little house amidst the green.
Jessica Telian
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conversations between sisters in Christ

  1. says

    I’ve been in this situation regarding topics such as drinking alcohol, dressing modestly, watching certain TV shows, etc. I think usually I’m the judgmental one, just seems to be my personality.

    Here are some thoughts:

    1) Even if you’re right and are good at arguing, it’s God who must convict the other person’s heart. Or if you’re being accused falsely, it’s God who will reveal the Truth.

    2) Sometimes God convicts you about something because that is your area of weakness and you NEED to be extra careful, but that doesn’t mean another person will fall into temptation from reading non-Christian literature or whatever.

  2. says

    Sadly I too have been guilty of the above. Unfortunately to I listened to other people’s thoughts of other people’s actions instead of listening to scripture. By the grace of God I still have my friends although it was rocky for awhile…

  3. says

    This post was beautiful. I’ve been on the judgment and judging side, probably more so judging others. Jesus hit me with this in the eyes last week, I’m going to be counseling at an all-girls camp this summer, and the covenant of the camp staff is “I will not force my convictions as a counselor on others, and allow the Holy Spirit room to lead campers to develop their own convictions through the words I speak and life I live. I will discern open sin only according to the Word of God, not my opinion.” It made me stop and think about this issue. As you shared, it is more than possible with Jesus to not be at odds or frustrated with believers in different stages and callings in life, but rejoice in the unique purpose others have!

  4. says

    Jessica, thank you, thank you, thank you!!! This topic has been greatly on my heart in the last year especially and you’ve put it so clearly and perfectly. I agree with you 100%! I too have been both girls and have had friendships of both kinds and neither is very nice. I’m ready to be and see more real girls who are gracious and loving in a Christ-like way, aren’t you? :) Such an encouraging and challenging post!

    Love in Christ!
    ~Rachel~

  5. says

    What a good (and very sensitive) topic to write about. I am familiar with this scenario and yes, I’ve been on both sides. I’ve been the one to point a finger and inwardly judge because someone was doing something in a way I did not consider to be the best and most godly way to do something (hehe). And now, I am on the other side of the coin… The Lord called me to it, and I have peace, but there is much tension about my differing path. Please keep me in prayers, sisters, that I may have humility, strength, and grace during this time in my life.

    • Hannah says

      How do you know if/when the Lord has called you to it? That’s what I struggle with when going against all opposition and dealing with the ensuing tension.

      • says

        Hello Hannah~

        That’s a hard question, and honestly one that only you can truly answer. I believe that if you’re truly seeking the Lord with all of you, He will show you…though it might not always be what we want or in our time. Stay open to His leading and He will guide you.

        Also, I would also recommend seeking wise counsel from several other strong believers around you. One thing that was driven home to me recently in a hard situation like this is the importance of seeking counsel from those believers whose good fruits you see in their lives and the lives of others around them. If a person only sows dissension and discord, they probably aren’t someone who would give good counsel.

        • Hannah says

          Jessica,

          Thank you for the great advice. I have found that seeking wise counsel from strong believers does help. In the past, I’ve been tempted to just listen to those who agree with me or “accept” me for my choices but I’m finding that those people aren’t always the ones bearing fruit in their lives. They “talk the talk” but don’t always “walk the walk” if you know what I mean.
          I’m finding out that those who can give me Scripture that is applicable and explain the meaning of it often have good solid advice for me.

          For now, I’m praying more about my future decisions and where this might be leading me.

          Do you think that if the counsel around me (parents, older mentors etc) are opposing me, that could be a sign from God?

          • says

            Hannah,

            Yes, that’s exactly what I meant about the importance of getting counsel from those in whose lives you can see good fruit. We need to make sure we don’t fall into the trap of only listening to those who agree with us.

            In regard to your question about whether or not opposing counsel from parents, etc. could be a sign from God…I hesitate to know how to answer that as each situation is so specific. And I know that this isn’t too much help, but basically…yes, it could be a sign from God and it also couldn’t. :) That’s something that you’ll have to seek the Lord yourself about.

  6. says

    Beautiful post. I’ve been the “A” in the scenario before and I greatly regret it now after being the “B”! It can be very frustrating and painful, and I appreciate someone writing about it, both for us who have been hurt and those of us who have hurt, even if it was with good intentions. No two people are going to be convicted about all the same things, and that’s ok. It is so easy to point fingers at people because deep down we wish we could do what they were doing. If we label them as in sin we think that we can feel better about the fact that we’re missing out. Jealousy is the hidden root of so many problems!