So there I was, sitting in church, trying to process the idea I wrote about yesterday, that God is angry about the damage done to me by the actions of others. The pastor started reading the text for the sermon, and all of a sudden I saw something I had never seen before.
If anyone sees his brother committing a sin that does not bring death, he should ask, and God will give life to him. 1 John 5:16a (HCSB)
I think every time I read that verse in the past, I got distracted by the whole “sin that brings death/sin that does not bring death” bit.
But this time, with that idea of the Lord being angry on my behalf still fresh in my mind, it jumped off the page at me.
Because these sins against me that have warped my psyche and hurt me so much… these sins by people who are in pain themselves and are lashing out in self-defense because of their own issues, these sins are not intentional. They have been committed against me by people who love me, and who in fact would be HORRIFIED if they were ever to understand just how badly I was wounded. If ever there was a “sin that does not bring death,” I’d say this qualifies.
So I don’t even care what theologians debate about this verse- it fits for this situation. I get it. It’s a totally different type of sin than outright meanness. Just like stepping on someone’s toe by accident is in a completely different category than stomping on someone’s foot because you’re mad at them.
But it’s still “sin” in the sense that it’s missing the mark of how God wants us to behave, and it’s harmful to others. So while this verse obviously applies to more than my situation and has far-reaching ramifications, I can at least apply it here.
Which means I should be praying for these people. Praying that God will give life to them.
What the heck does THAT mean? “Give life to them?”
I have no idea. But I’m going to start praying it anyway, and see what happens.
Because the alternative is to pray that He smites them in their tracks for the fact that they hurt me. And I’m pretty sure that’s not what He’s all about, regardless of how satisfying it would feel at first to me to get my “pound of flesh.”
I also can’t help but notice that it doesn’t say, “If anyone sees a brother committing a sin that does not lead to death, he should confront him.” There are other verses about confronting sin, sure, but this one doesn’t say that.
So while I firmly believe (having learned this the hard way) that if someone is stepping on your metaphorical toe, you should say something to the effect of, “Ouch, that hurts, get off my metaphorical toe,” I’m also seeing in this verse that there is something more I can do.
I can pray for them. That God will give them life.
I’m kind of excited about this. What if this “life” means they start LIVING in those areas where they are all bound up and dead?
This could be a good thing. A very, very good thing.