Calling Someone Out
For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them. Acts 28:26-27
Anyone working with addicts is frequently presented with a myriad of excuses for destructive behavior. The one who’s life is consumed by his addiction will often blame everything and everyone around him for his calamities. Motivational interviewing is the attempt to try to engage the addict in a way that leads him to see the cause of his misery – and to do something about it – without directly pointing it out. How does drinking affect your life? How would you like your life to be different?
Sometimes this is helpful, but sometimes the addict just doesn’t get it because he’s convinced that all of his problems are caused by external factors beyond his control. I’m in jail because my lawyer is incompetent . . . The police are out to get me . . . I wouldn’t drink if my family didn’t drive me crazy.
There are times then, when the painful truth simply must be stated. It’s not always easy to know when, but sometimes, the addict just needs a stern voice, pointing out that he is the cause of his life problems. As long as he believes the problems are external to him, he won’t be able to do anything about them and he’ll never escape the spiral of destruction. The only way out is to see that he is the disaster and that he must radically change. The cause isn’t everyone else. You are your greatest life problem. You are the thing that must change.
Sometimes, the nonsense simply must be called out. This is what Paul did in today’s passage. Under house arrest in Rome, he shared the gospel with the local Jews, some of whom believed, but many didn’t. For those who didn’t, Paul had some harsh words. You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive (Acts 28:26).
Calling someone out is hard to get right. Paul may have been good at it, but most of us are not. It’s not our life mission to point out all the flaws we see in others. We’re not God’s little judges. There are those times though, when, in love, not anger, we must point out the painful truth that we see in the lives of those around us.