What If I Knew and Didn’t Tell You
I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Acts 20:26-27
If a patient comes to me in clinic about a funny looking mole and it looks suspicious for a cancer, it’s easy for me to recommend a biopsy. What if I’m not in the clinic though? What if I’m out and about and just happen to notice a friend’s funny looking mole that appears worrisome? Am I responsible to tell him even if he’s not asking? I’m not talking about standing in the grocery store, looking for strangers with abnormal skin lesions. I’m talking about those in my circle of influence. If I knew something looked like a cancer and didn’t say anything, when it spread, causing more damage, would I be responsible for not saying something earlier?
In today’s passage, Paul suggests that we have some responsibility to those around us. In the story, as Paul said goodbye for the final time to the Ephesian church, he declared that he was innocent of anyone’s blood because he’d been faithful to declare the gospel of Christ to everyone he met. Paul knew he wasn’t responsible for transforming anyone’s life. He did consider himself responsible though for sharing the truth that he believed. Paul told others of Christ’s love and transforming power. If they believed, great. If not, that wasn’t his responsibility. His job was simply to love others and share the truth with them. His conscience was clear because he’d faithfully shared the gospel of Christ with all.
It’s easy for me to go to treatment centers and jail to talk about repentance, faith, and recovery. It’s harder though with my neighbor. When I see someone next to me struggling with addiction, am I willing to love them, getting involved in their lives, sharing the truth with them? This is a little messier. When I go to the jail, I can leave, and those guys don’t follow me home. When it’s my neighbor, it’s closer and more uncomfortable.
As Christians though, we have some responsibility to share the truth we know with those around us. It’s not our job to change anyone’s life. That’s God’s work. We are responsible though to be transformed by God ourselves, and then to tell others of the life, joy, and peace that is found in abandoning our way to follow his.