I am an extrovert, and proud of it! One of my favorite things to do with my time is sit down with a person and get down to the details of life. I want to know their hopes, dreams, fears, and fancies, their favorite movies and songs, the smell of the candle they always burn on their kitchen table…details are so important. I love the connection that comes from knowing someone’s life deeply.
When Their Walk Becomes Your Walk
Sometimes, though, it occurs to me that we can get too close to people, to the point where we start to feel a sort of responsibility or stake in how they live their lives. Particularly their walk with Christ. I don’t know what it is about Christians, but as a whole, we tend to be extremely concerned with how other people’s relationship with the Lord is going—maybe even more than we’re concerned with our own.
In my mind—because I’m a very visual person—I see this like Jesus walking down the road with the other people, and we’re sort of stepping on the backs of their sandals with our chin on our friend’s shoulder, trying to overhear everything. We make their walk our walk. Usually our intentions are even good. Our concern for their spiritual journey is genuine. But we can get so involved in everyone else’s spiritual walk that we neglect our own.
It’s Between You and the Lord
It’s good to have Christian community. It’s good to have concern for one another, and to correct and reprove when we see others drifting down paths of sin or misconduct. The problem, in my experience, is that many Christians tend to stray into policing how others walk out their entire faith journey. We judge our fellow Jesus-followers on everything from their clothing and music choices, to the kind of church or fellowship they attend (if they attend one at all), to the denomination or doctrinal flag they stand under. We make it our business to have an opinion on every angle of someone else’s walk with the Lord—or maybe just on the parts that are personally really important to us, for whatever reason—and we just can’t help but get involved in those areas, whether we’re invited into them or not.
You Answer for YOU – No One Else
Personal investment aside, when it comes down to it, all the correction, reproof, and advice in the world does not make us responsible for any other Christian’s walk. At the Judgement Seat, you will not be held accountable for the behavior of your brother or sister in Christ. Their conduct and choices, and the consequences of these things—for better or for worse—are ultimately between them and God on that Day. We cannot dictate other people’s actions, no matter how badly we may want to. Our focus needs to be much more on our own conduct, our own hearts, and our own calling from the Lord, and how we choose to carry out our faith journey, rather than on monitoring everyone else’s.
Even with the best intentions in mind, we can very easily lose sight of our own responsibility before the Lord—using our gifts and callings from him to spread the Gospel and minister to the body of Christ—when we become fixated on someone else’s life.
Focus on YOUR Walk – Not Theirs
Whether in ministerial or relational or other day-to-day situations, in the end, we can only control our own behavior and conduct, and no one else’s. We can give counsel and advice, we can reprimand and take people to Scripture…but the choice is theirs whether to receive or reject reproof or criticism. We can drive ourselves absolutely crazy trying to make it any other way, but that doesn’t change the reality that it’s up to us, as individuals, to choose to walk uprightly in every circumstance—as we will be held accountable before our God for our own walk, and no one else’s.
Being accountable for our actions alone is quite the responsibility. So today, I encourage you not to stress about how everyone else on the narrow road is walking. Just concentrate on each step you take in synchrony with the Lord. Lead by example, rather than by being consumed with the behavior of those around you.
And rest assured, brothers and sisters…I promise that today, I will not be crowding behind you and stepping on your sandals!