Is it right to speak up?
Waiting to get a coffee, a bloke in England overheard a woman bragging about cheating on her unsuspecting partner, “David”.
Stevie Wilcock didn’t know the woman or catch her name, but he was startled by what he heard.
Stevie has become an international news story because he posted a message to “David” on Facebook. Stevie listed all the details he saw and heard, from the woman’s outfit to the license plate of the car she was driving. Click here to read all about it, including how the woman Stevie overheard was laughing with another man about her infidelity plans.
Reaction AND action
Unsurprisingly, the social-media reaction to Stevie has been mixed. Praise and punches have been directed at him.
Those who applaud him think it’s great that he took a stand against infidelity. Others say he recklessly broadcast the private lives of strangers — without considering all the factors.
But no matter what you think of what Stevie actually did, one thing is undeniable: Stevie reacted AND acted when confronted by the wrong thing.
I know that I don’t do that. I mean, I don’t always do that.
Sometimes I do. Sometimes I speak up or remove myself from a situation or do something specifically because someone is doing the wrong thing near me.
As I read about Stevie, though, I was amazed at how I lack his immediate urgency to take a moral stand. Even though I want my life to imitate Jesus, I’m a flawed facsimile of Jesus’s godly, right ways.
There is another way
While Stevie’s Facebook post to “David” was seemingly aimed at “helping” him and shaming his cheating partner, the New Testament instructs Jesus’s followers to something even more radical.
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently,” is what Galatians 6:1 reveals.
Such loving intervention is not calling for us to embarrass or judge the person who is “caught in any wrongdoing” (someone trapped in repeated sin, which they are unable or unwilling to get themselves out of).
No, it’s urging Spirit-filled believers in Jesus to help other Spirit-filled believers in Jesus to overcome whatever has caught them. Giving them whatever heartfelt assistance we can, to restore them to the positive relationship with Jesus that He and His heavenly father long for us to enjoy.
But Galatians 6 does come with a warning about providing such gentle and sincere help. “Watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
The hard bit about helping someone to break free of wrongdoing is the risk that we might get caught up in it. However, as Galatians 6:2 highlights, being aware of such a temptation (and, then, how to not be caught by it — as is clearly explained by 1 Corinthians 10:12-13) is the sort of caution we need to exercise.
When we do, we are well placed to carry each other’s burdens in constructive and loving ways — rather than hoping a Facebook post will gently restore someone caught in wrongdoing.
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