I was stunned. I had known Phoebe since our girls were little. She had been to our home many times and always read to the girls when it was their bedtime.
Later, Phoebe had worked tirelessly in a small town, doing menial jobs so that she could share the gospel with those around her. She had been a great encouragement to the pastor and his wife, often the only faithful attendee in the fledgling congregation.
When we heard Phoebe was discouraged, we visited and prayed with her. She was indeed a long way from home and missed her family sorely. Yet, what she didn’t tell us was that she was already struggling with the validity of Truth.
I’ll bet that you have a Phoebe in your life, huh?
She was one of those mystery people, who “suddenly” cashed it all in to go their own way.
But, what is our response?
Let’s compare the wording of both James and Peter as we sort this together:
“My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” James 5:19-20
“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8
Notice the overlap?
Anyone that strays from Truth must be dealt with in love.
Unfortunately, I tend to waffle between a hardline, judgmental approach
or a “I’m not going to say anything” approach.
Neither is true love.
Pause for a moment to bring up your “Phoebe” before God in prayer.
Now, let’s allow the Father to direct our thoughts on their behalf:
Despite their sin, have we been patient with them? (“Love is patient”)
When we speak about them to others, have our words been kind? (“Love is kind)
When their absence at church is mentioned, do we have an arrogant, “holier than thou” attitude? (“Love is not arrogant”)
Has their action embarrassed us or made us angry? (“Love is not provoked and doesn’t take into account a wrong suffered”)
Have we given up on their return and grew tired of praying for them? (“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”)
Have we failed to pray for them recently? (“Love never fails”)
Will our love be one to cover a multitude of sins?
May it be so my dear friend. May it be so for both of us.