Wednesday, September 5, 2012
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When you're a little kid, they're pretty rough on you if you tell on somebody else. Remember? Oh, maybe that happened to you. Oh, the names they call you when you do that are not particularly complimentary: tattle-tale, traitor; depending on your generation - rat fink. Those are the nice names. It gets worse than that. Kids almost get to feeling that telling about something wrong is worse than doing something wrong. That's not true.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "When You Know an Ugly Secret."
Well, our word for today from the Word of God is from 1 Samuel 3. It's about a man named Eli. He was the main man at the temple in those days, and unfortunately for Eli, even though he wasn't carrying out any gross sin that we know about, his sons were like out-of-control. They would have been the media scandal of the day, because they used their position as priests at the temple to take money for themselves, and to take women for themselves. And God passes His verdict as we look at 1 Samuel 3, beginning at verse 11.
"And the Lord said to Samuel: 'See, I'm about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family - from beginning to end. For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them."
Did you notice that? God says, "I'm going to judge Eli because of the sin, not that he did, but that he knew about." See, with God, knowledge equals responsibility. Now, that's not just in God's scales of justice. Remember way back at the Watergate hearings and how they kept hammering home the question, "What did you know?" And, "When did you know it?"
People who know about a violation of the law and don't do anything about it can be convicted of charges like conspiracy, or obstruction of justice. See, God insists that you take action if you know about wrong that's being done. The Bible says, "He that covers sin will not prosper."
Think how much embarrassment has come to the cause of Christ because of scandals involving Christian leaders, TV evangelists, pastors, and how much of that could have been avoided if people who knew about sin had acted on that knowledge. Often we just bury the secret. Why? Sometimes it's blind loyalty, but sin's going to grow like a cancer. And it will be discovered, but by then the damage will be irreparable. Sometimes it's because of vested interest; we're afraid of what we might lose. But look at Eli. You'll lose a lot more if you don't.
There's a pattern for doing this in Matthew 18, beginning at verse 15. First, you go to the person one-on-one with the sin that you know about. Talk to them about it. If that doesn't work, you go with one or two others. Then Jesus said you go to the church or whatever large group is appropriate. And finally, if they don't respond, Jesus said you cut off fellowship from them, so they'll come to their senses. You do no one a favor when you know about sin and you don't deal with it.
What happens when you don't deal with it, when you don't confront it, is that you are condemning the one who is doing it to greater consequences, and you condemn others to being hurt by that covered-up sin. Oh, and you condemn yourself to judgment from God for covering it up. The longer you wait, the worse the fallout's going to be. So, don't be guilty of obstructing justice - God's justice that is. Remember, when you know an ugly secret, knowledge equals responsibility.