By Pat Higgins
Human nature being what it is, it is depressing to admit that we have been less than successful at anything. It is even more depressing when that failure reflects our influence, or lack of influence, on someone who is important to us. We would like to believe that when we teach someone the gospel, he will stay “taught” and faithful; when we make a friend, a good and true friend he will always be; when we raise a child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, there is nothing that can destroy the faith of that child.
When the one taught drifts away from the truth, the friend turns against us, or the child is lured away by the pleasures of the world, we are filled with doubts and self-recrimination. It had to be something we did, or did not do. Somehow we failed. Our self-esteem suffers and we blame ourselves for failure in others, especially those close to us. It is important to learn that failure in others is not necessarily the result of a failure on our part.
It is noteworthy that when Simon the sorcerer strayed from the pathway of right, the Apostle Peter did not bemoan the fact that he had done a poor job of teaching Simon. He did not blame himself for Simon’s weakness. He told Simon to repent of his wickedness (Acts 8).
At one time Peter, a friend of Jesus, turned his back on the Lord, denying Him. Jesus did not assume the blame for Peter’s conduct; He had grounded and loved Peter no less than the other disciples. Jesus’ concern was for Peter to be converted and turn from his erring ways (Lk. 22:32-62).
When the prodigal son left his home and “wasted his substance with riotous living,” it was he who sinned. There is no indication the father had been too strict or too lenient, thereby causing the son to waste his life (Lk. 15:11-32).
Aside from the deep sorrow that comes from seeing a child of God fall, we must not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed with self-imposed guilt. Let us not lose sight of the fact that the same influence has a different effect on different persons. Remember, it is the same sun that hardens the clay and melts the wax. Likewise, there are those who will not receive truth, who refuse discipline, and who rebel against authority.
Our duty is to unwaveringly present and uphold the truth “in season, out of season” (when it it easy, when it is difficult; when they accept it, when they do not). We must understand the basic reason for a Christian turning from the truth is that he “. . . will not endure sound doctrine” (2 Tim: 4:2, 3). Recognizing “sound doctrine” as that which causes the turning away, our personal pain should be eased and our self-esteem should be strengthened, knowing we have but fulfilled our obligation to the God of heaven.
We simply cannot bear the burden for those who react adversarial in the face of truth, discipline and authority which has been administered with love.
Truth Magazine XXIII: 27, p. 438
July 12, 1979