when the church lets you down
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When the Church Lets You Down Remember to Guard Against Sinful Communication

This is part 4 of our series on What to Do When the Church Lets You Down. You can see all the posts in the series here.

when the church lets you down
When the church lets you down, or when another person sins against you, the human reaction is to lash out in response. The temptation to respond sinfully is great, and therefore, we must be diligent to guard against sinful communication when the church lets us down.

3 Sins We are Susceptible to When the Church Lets Us Down

1. Minimizing sinful talk.

The Bible is clear on how we are to communicate with one another, especially during conflict.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. ~Ephesians 4:29

We cannot allow any corrupting talk to come out of our mouths. This verse (nor any other verse in the Bible on this topic) gives a qualifier on the end for when it’s okay to allow corrupting talk to leave our mouths.

Minimizing sinful talk can be done in various ways, but the following statements give a few examples:

  • “Well I’m not saying anything that isn’t true!”
  • “Sometimes the truth hurts…”
  • “I’m actually loving this person by sharing their sins with others.”
  • “I’m doing others a favor by telling them what awful thing that church did to us.”

This is not the way of God outlined in His word. Instead we are to use words that “give grace to those who hear” when we encounter conflict among believers. Grace is unmerited favor extended to us from a loving, merciful God.

  • Do your words exhibit mercy or condemnation?
  • Do your words build up or tear down?
We must be faithful to avoid minimizing sinful talk when the church lets us down.

2. Justifying gossip and slander.

I like to know what a word means when I’m studying the word of God. It’s easy for me to assume I know the definition, but in some cases it’s good to take a second look.

So let’s define gossip and slander.

Gossip: idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others {source}

Slander: a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report {source}

The key difference between gossip and slander is that gossip can be a sharing of facts while slander is specifically filled with false information meant to tear down and defame. Regardless of whether you’re merely sharing the facts of the story or intentionally seeking to defame another, both are forms of sinful communication. We must be diligent when the church lets us down to not engage in idle talk or malicious communication in the private affairs of the church or church members.

In Romans chapter one, Paul names off a long list of unrighteous behaviors – among those sins listed you will find both gossip and slander (ref. Romans 1:28-32). He wraps up the list with the following statement:

Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. ~Romans 1:32

We must be diligent to avoid justifying gossip or slander of any kind because God takes it very seriously.

3. Refusing to acknowledge personal contribution to the problem.

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. ~Matthew 7:1-5

I know you have heard this scripture, and heard it often as it has become quite cliche in our culture. Let’s lay aside the cliche and seek the truth of this scripture.

Jesus’ purpose in this instruction is not to tell us to refrain from calling one another into account, but instead to teach us to do so with the awareness of how much we too have been forgiven: “for the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the  measure you use it will be measured to you.”

We are to first evaluate ourselves – our involvement and contribution to the conflict. Then once we have done so we can see more clearly the sin in our brother’s life and can seek to help him to see his sin with a heart of humility and love. Because we first evaluated our own contributions and sins against God and man,  we come as an equal, one forgiven much, seeking to love and care for a brother or sister caught in sin, not as a judge and jury filled with bitterness, wrath, and condemnation.

We must guard against refusing to acknowledge our own contributions to the problem when the church lets us down.

I know what it’s like to feel the sting of a church who has let you down. I know what’s it like to sit at home on Sunday wondering what you did wrong or how it got to this point. I know what it’s like to fight for faith among the pain. But I also know what it’s like to experience grace and peace from God that surpasses all understanding when I choose to take God at His word and turn from sinful communication.

When the church lets us down, we do not want to harm a church’s collective witness to Christ. <–Tweet That!

There is a time and a place for biblical conflict resolution, and we must guard against sinful communication during the process and journey, especially via the Internet. Our words can be damaging to not only those in the church body, but those outside the church body as well. As believers in a merciful, loving God, who has commanded us to love one another, sinful communication does not fulfill this command.

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. ~John 13:35

Taking sinful communication seriously because God takes it seriously is an important step in the process of learning what to do when the church lets us down. If you’ve been burned by the church and in turn resorted to one of the above sins in response, know this:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. ~Romans 8:1

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ~1 John 1:9

He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. ~Psalm 103:10-12

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. ~Isaiah 26:3

 What do you think of this call to avoid sinful communication when the church lets you down? Tell us in the comments!

Part 5 – Remember God’s Mercy & Grace

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6 Comments

  1. Great post! We went through a horrible church split over two years ago. Many of my best friends left but I felt led to stay. Despite how painful it was for everyone involved, I never recall ONE negative social media post. It’s like we all knew that even though terrible mistakes had been made, we are still Jesus’ Church, and we are still a reflection on Him. We must remember that in the midst of such deep church hurt.

  2. It has been difficult to follow this advice and still explain to folk why we left a specific church location and not our denomination. It’s getting easier. I am able to separate the deeds from the emotions. Still struggling with some aspects, but God’s grace is sufficient. Blessings to all.

  3. Many thanks for writing “When the Church Lets You Down Remember
    to Guard Against Sinful Communication”. I personallymay definitely wind up being coming back for a lot more reading through and writing comments soon.
    Thank you, Augustina