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.
Holy Father, Thank You for embodying the complete character of Love (1 John 4:16). In the midst of this crazy generation, we need desperately to see past the present and gaze into the eternal. As I remember Your everlasting Presence today, remind me of the unsearchable qualities of Your love. * You are patient with me (1 Corinthians 13:4). You wait as I dawdle. You guide as I hesitate. You carefully urge me along without exasperating over my immaturity (Ephesians 6:4). As I interact with others, may Your patience flow from me to them. * You are kind to me (1 Corinthians 13:4). You act benevolently, always offering Yourself to me as an ever-present help in times of need (Hebrews 4:16). You comfort when I hurt (2 Corinthians 1:3). You rejoice when I faith (Zephaniah 3:17). Your kindness always draws me back to You (Romans 2:4). As I communicate with others, may Your kindness extend from me to them. * You do not boil over with envy, hatred or jealousy toward me (1 Corinthians 13:4). Your beef with me ended when I faithed You (Hebrews 10:17). That is all You expected. You knew I couldn’t keep the Law (James 2:10). You have changed me from the inside out and given me Your Spirit in exchange for my own (2 Corinthians 5:17). You have put Your God seed within me so that I no longer enjoy sin (1 John 3:9). It’s not my nature now. And even when I do mess up, Your forgiveness absorbs the action as it happens without condemnation (Hebrews 10:14; Romans 8:1). As I interface with others, may Your same forgiveness spill over through me into their lives. * You’ve done everything for me through Christ and yet You remain humble about it (1 Corinthians 13:4). You emptied Yourself for me, so that I could understand You (Philippians 2:7). You are not puffed up and braggadocios about what You are doing in my life. I can worship You without You getting a big head about it. Instead of narcissistically patting Yourself on the back, You spend Your time building me up (1 Corinthians 8:1). As I meet others, may Your same humility extend to them through me. * You never act unbecoming (1 Corinthians 13:5). You only do what is fitting and appropriate. And often even that is hidden away from my view (Isaiah 45:15). How unsearchable are Your judgments and unfathomable Your ways (Romans 11:33)! You are far greater than my imagination or finite understanding (Isaiah 55:8-9). As I make contact with others, may Your appropriate actions in every situation work through me outward. * You never demand Your own way in my life (1 Corinthians 13:5). You stand at the door of my heart and knock. You request entrance into my mind and emotions rather than barging in (Revelation 3:20). You call me and lead me, but never with a heavy hand (John 10:4). Turn my affections into a willingness to obey (Luke 12:36). As I speak with others, may I extend Your same gentleness to them. * You are not irritated or provoked with me (1 Corinthians 13:5). This I truly cannot understand. I irritate myself! Yet, You — the God of the universe — are not provoked at me. Amazing. You don’t despise me and aren’t even sharp with me. Any stabs and jabs I hear are from the accuser (Zechariah 3:1). No, You have given me peace with You (Romans 5:1). You don’t just love me, but You really like me as well. You are okay with me! Hallelujah. As I deal with others, may I accept them like You accept me. * Now that You have forgiven me, You no longer measure my faults (1 Corinthians 13:5). That account book is closed. My individual debts are paid up and there is no outstanding balance on any of my accounts (Psalm 103:12)! You can’t even remember what my sins were in the first place (Hebrews 8:12)! Yes, O Lord, as I identify with others may I offer them the same forgetfulness of wrongs that You gave me (John 20:23). * Since You can’t remember my unrighteousness, You spend Your time in focusing on the righteousness of Christ in me (1 Corinthians 13:6; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Every time that righteousness wins a skirmish, You are there, cheering me on (Zephaniah 3:17). You congratulate me when I understand a fragment of Your truth. You take a hands-on approach to share my joy. As I interface with others, may Your rejoicing stretch out to them through me. *You bear all my weakness, believe in my strengths, hope in my future, and endure all of my past. Your Love is perfect, unconditional and complete (1 John 4:18). I do not have to fear You because You aren't going to punish me. You took care of the punishment for me (1 Corinthians 15:56; Romans 10:4; Hebrews 10:18, Isaiah 53:4-5). Your Love has a breadth, a length, a height and a depth that cannot be measured (Ephesians 3:18). May I respond in going forth in this very messed-up world to share You, my mysterious Love. .