Staying in My Own Lane
But since it is a matter of questions about words and names and your own law, see to it yourselves. I refuse to be a judge of these things. Acts 18:15
I have a fuzzy memory from my early childhood of telling our next-door neighbor that God didn’t like it that he smoked. At age four or five, I knew for a fact that smoking was a sin and I couldn’t just sit back while someone else willfully engaged in that transgression. So, I did my Christian duty and informed this man of the error of his ways. It was my job after all, to involve myself in the sins of those around me, right?
I struggle with this still. As a recovering addict, it’s often apparent when someone else is struggling with addiction. Do I just blurt it out? I can see you’re addicted. You need help. Or, do I just let him know where I stand and then wait for him to come to me?
As Christians, this is difficult for us. We’re supposed to be salt and light to the world. We’re supposed to stand for truth. Often though, we’re flawed enough that we also just want to be busy bodies, using our faith to insert ourselves into situations where we don’t belong. We all know those who misuse their relationship with God as an excuse to interfere in the lives of those around them.
In today’s passage, the local Jews united against Paul, dragging him before Gallio, the local proconsul. Paul was accused of heresy, at which point Gallio pointed out that he had jurisdiction over criminal activity, not religious disputes. Wisely, the proconsul stayed in his lane, refusing to get involved in something that simply didn’t concern him.
We often need to exercise the same kind of wisdom, staying in our own lane when it’s right to do so. How do we know though? When are we supposed to say something and when do we keep our mouths shut?
I’m not Jesus, but I can learn from him. How did he do it? Usually, Jesus invested in other’s lives before addressing their self-destruction. If I’ve given something of myself, showing love and kindness to that individual, then, often, I’ve got some credibility and influence. Then, I can, in love, speak the truth. If, however, I’m unwilling to love that individual and only willing to point out his sin, then maybe I just need to stay in my own lane.