Vol. 6, No. 10
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Most people want to be right, to the fullest extent of their ability, in the sight of all observers. However, there are some depraved souls who could not care less how they appear in the sight of either God or man, and they conduct themselves solely by their own selfish whims and notions. When they are reminded of being out of harmony with God's perfect moral and spiritual standards (or even man's imperfect standards), their response often is: "I don't care what anyone thinks or says" or "It's none of your business" or "It's my life to live and I will live it as I please." This latter concept is often heard these days to the sad dismay of parents from their children, and it generates a double grief in godly parents: grief because of the sin of rebellion, and grief when that rebellion ultimately results in fruits that hurt and sorrow for their children.
Sadly, the above expressed attitudes are becoming more and more prevalent in our society as a whole, and it is spilling over into the precious body of Christ, the church for which Christ died. "That He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:26-27). We would expect an infidel, who is regulated only by humanistic values, to have an "I don't care" attitude about what is right in the sight of God. But how can one who has become a member of the "glorious church" have an "I don't care" attitude and create a "spot" and "blemish" in the body for which Jesus died? How could one possibly say to the Lord or any of his sanctified and cleansed ones that "It is none of your business what I do?" How can a true believer say, "It's my life and I will live it as I please," when "...He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again" (2 Corinthians 5:15)?
Christians, therefore, are to be concerned not only with what is right in the sight of God, but also with what is right in the sight of man. When Paul was collecting and getting ready to carry the "gift" from the churches in Macedonia and Achaia to Jerusalem, he chose men to travel with him. Why? To avoid this: "...that anyone should blame us in this lavish gift which is administered by us -- providing honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men" (2 Corinthians 8:20-21). The meaning of the Greek word translated "honorable things" is "beautiful...good ...i.e., valuable or virtuous (for appearance or use)." It is not simply a matter of being (looking) right in the sight of God; it is also a matter of being (looking) right in the sight of men. Christians are well aware that God knows accurately every thought and intent of a man's heart and no doing of man is hidden from his eyes regardless of how dark the night or private the house (cf. Hebrews 4:12-13). But Christians must be concerned also with whether their doings may appear to be wrong in the sight of man, even while doing what is right.
What kind of an impression is left in the sight of man when any person, especially a professing Christian, is seen slipping into or coming out of a "honky-tonk" or an adult book store or a peep show or a house of ill-fame? How does it appear in the sight of man when a Christian is observed frequenting the house of a woman home alone or when an unmarried man and woman cohabit in a home setting? Worldly-minded people, religious and non-religious alike, often see all this simply as a laughing matter, something to provoke suggestive conversation or joke about, knowing the implications. Christians who carelessly or intentionally get themselves into this setting are bringing reproach upon the church of Christ and upon themselves, forming "spots" upon the glorious church for which Christ died. Those are the kind of people of whom Jude spoke, saying, "These are spots in your feasts of charity...to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever" (Jude 12-13).
Faithful, spiritual Christians are under obligation to restore those who are "overtaken in a fault" (Galatians 6:1). But if they refuse to be restored, then they are to be turned over to Satan (cf. 1 Timothy 1:20). What a sad end for those who do not provide "honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men."