Do Christians have an obligation to pry into the lives of others?

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You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  Matthew 7:16

Yes, I suppose that their just might be a place for fruit inspectors within the body of Christ.  Might be… 

But there’s a major flaw in some thinking here.  People are not cans that need to be pried open to have their fruit inspected.  Are they?  Neither are they Tupperware containers of different opacities whereby others can examine their fruit in degrees of transparency.  Fruit grows and should be visible.  If it’s not visible yet, it seems presumptuous to pry someone open to see if there are any fruit inside so as to make judgments regarding their spiritual state.

There is certainly a level or purposed, or intentional transparency  needed for others to grow.  “Be imitators of me, brothers and sisters, and watch carefully those who are living this way, just as you have us as an example. For many live (about whom I often told you, and now say even with tears) as enemies of the cross of Christ.”  Philippians 3:17-18

If one offends or sins against you directly, then it’s right to approach that person and discuss their “bad fruit.”  Proverbs 25:9,  Matthew 18:15 etc.  But if the same person fails to recognize their offense or sin, then scripture also seems to indicate a bit of sanctioned prying. 

So, do Christians have the right or obligation to pry into the lives of others?  When?

 

0 thoughts on “Do Christians have an obligation to pry into the lives of others?

  1. wbmoore says:

    Should we pry? No.
    2 Thessalonians 3:11

    We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies.

    1 Timothy 5:13

    Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to

    Should we address sins which people do against us? Yes.
    Matthew 18:15-17
    15 “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

    Should we be a hypocrite and address some sin in someone else without first addressing it in others? No.
    Matthew 7:1-7

    1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

    3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

    Should we be patient and forgiving and loving when people sin? Yes.
    1 Peter 4:8

    Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

    Should we recognize who is God’s child and who is not, by their behavior? Yes.
    1 John 3:7-10

    7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

    Should we pray and encourage and help a brother when he confesses sin? Yes.
    James 5:15-18

    15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

    17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

    Should we exhort people to live corectly? Yes.
    1 Timothy 5:1-2

    1 Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.

    Should we confront an elder who sins? yes.
    1 Timothy 5:17-20

    17 The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “Do not muzzle the ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” 19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 20 Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.

    Should we try to bring someone back from wandering from the TRUTH? Yes.
    James 5:19-20

    19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

    Should we judge those within the church? Yes.
    1 Corinthians 5

    1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? 3 Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. 4 When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

    6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

    9 I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

    12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

  2. wbmoore says:

    oops.
    “without first addressing it in others” should be
    “without first addressing it in ourselves”

  3. […] over at Pathways International asked, “Do Christians have an obligation to pry into the lives of others?” He made this statement and […]

  4. Marshall says:

    fruit (good or bad) is obvious enough for the discerning eye not to require a pry bar for visibility.
    Sometimes when a person is short of discerning they may start poking around more aggressively in attempts to discover & evaluate for themselves… not a good thing.

    admonitions can feel somewhat like prying, when/where most often all things are already being made visible (except yet to the one being admonished?).

    “background checks” now being used by some church organizations are example in “prying”.

  5. Grace and truth.

    Truth: If you have a problem of walking on my toes, mine included and I don’t say ‘ouch,’ be careful; or if I am a toe trodder, including yours, and you don’t say anything, we are not being helpful to each other.

    I think, if we are authentically connected to others, it is not a question of ‘if’ we should address issues, but ‘when’ and ‘how’.

    If we do not see issues with each other, I would submit we that the problem is that we are not authentically connected.

  6. Grace and truth.

    Truth: If you have a problem of walking on my toes, mine included and I don’t say ‘ouch,’ be careful; or if I am a toe trodder, including yours, and you don’t say anything, we are not being helpful to each other.

    I think, if we are authentically connected to others, it is not a question of ‘if’ we should address issues, but ‘when’ and ‘how’.

    If we do not see issues with each other, I would submit that the problem is that we are not authentically connected.

  7. Tom Schultz says:

    Its one thing to look at fruit already there, out in the open…but something entirely different to pry into someone’s life to check. It makes me think of planting a seed and then digging it up a day later to see why it hasn’t come up yet…always destined to fail and also will guarantee there will be no fruit!
    If I felt someone was digging into my life uninvited, I’m outta there!

    • Marshall says:

      pauses us to consider…
      If someone’s prying to see our fruit, why is what they’re looking for not more obvious to them?

      • Tom Schultz says:

        Perhaps they are looking for their kind of fruit…blackberries, say, when it is season for raspberries.

      • Tom Schultz says:

        Case in point…we discovered last fall that our 8-year-old bittersweet vines WERE producing fruit…we just thought they would be the classic red berries with the orange outer shell…all we had seen were pale-yellow berries, which turend out to be the outer shell before it had matured.

        • Marshall says:

          more than a decade ago, I lived for awhile among the fruit orchards of California’s San Juaquin [pronounced: whah-keen] Valley. In that place there is a time (2nd & 3rd year) where the shape of the trees will become more a focus for the laborers. However, the garden of God, our Husbandman, does not appear in neatly placed rows of uniformly-shaped trees. He seeks the ideal in an efficiency alien to the carnal mind.
          We know that good fruit is somewhat narrowly defined [Galatians 5:22:23], while “rotten” or bad fruit more broadly. Also, for how fruit need remain to maturity. [Luke 8:14; John 15:16] A couple of years running with no good fruit in season, and the tree is cut down to make room for another. [Matthew 7:19; 21:19; Luke 13]
          Rightly, there is an urgency. Denied water, light, or nutrients, and the tree faces a multiplied jeopardy. Where we do look for fruit, be looking with love; a commitment to care… to make appeal and to do as the vineyard-keeper says, “Let it alone, Sir, for this one year more, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer”. That is love. But to the fruitless tree, digging around could even seem a bit like “prying”? If you’re gonna dig, be prepared to add something truly good & helpful!

  8. […] Miguel at “God Directed Deviations” has written a very interesting (and thought-provoking) post called “Do Christians have an obligation to pry into the lives of others?” […]

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