If you see a man shut up in a closed room, idolizing a set of lamps and rejoicing in their light,
and you wish to make him truly happy, you would begin by blowing out all his lamps;
and then throw open the shutters to let in the light of heaven.
~Samuel Rutherford, Scottish Presbyterian theologian (1600-1661)…
I got that quote in a newsletter, and it really hit me. How many times have you realized that a friend or relative was doing something wrong, but were afraid to talk to them openly about it? Maybe you were afraid of their anger…or their scorn…or just having them laugh at you. Or maybe you were afraid of losing their friendship or simply hurting their feelings. All those things are very hard to face, and it’s easier to simply bypass the issue and pretend that you see nothing wrong.
I’ve heard people say, “Well, whatever makes her happy.” or, “If he’s okay with it, what business is it of mine?” And that’s true. At least to a point. It’s not our job to tell others how to live. But isn’t there a point where you can see that this behavior is leading them away from God? And if so, should we be saying so?
If you have a friend who habitually watches trashy movies, should you gently point out that God has said to set no vile thing before our eyes?
If you have a co-worker who freely uses office supplies, do you mention that it is actually stealing?
If you know that a family member has begun to elevate wealth above ethics, do you confront them?
If someone you know lives in a way that is an affront to God, is there any reason for you to talk to them about it?
I wonder how many of these things God will hold us accountable for? Is it our responsibility to attempt to “open the shutters?” Or, rather than calling it a responsibility, is it just something that we will do, if we truly care? Sometimes I wonder if I truly have a heart for the lost, when I am so apt to ignore their insults toward God.
As for all the fears I mentioned earlier–that the person might laugh or be hurt or angry…Is this not a case where perfect love should cast out fear? Isn’t it true that our love for them should be stronger than any fear of their reaction?
Why would we avoid the issue if we love them?