I wrote the below a few years ago, sharing it at Story Warren and The Rabbit Room. It seems like a good time to share it here.
I had an email from a friend this morning who saw something in my life and felt called to point it out to me. It was about how Gina and I parent our kids. I am not always good at receiving this kind of feedback. It’s embarrassing. It makes me feel weird to think people are watching, noticing things. This is so often an avenue of judgement and accusation.
Many people don’t understand that the name, “Devil,” means “Accuser.” It comes (literally) from the idea of throwing stones. On the other hand, both God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are described as our Advocate. It is a Trinitarian task to advocate on behalf of those who are in Christ.
It really does need to be said that loving people includes a call to engaging in loving confrontation. If I hate my children, I fail to confront them with their rebellion and sin. This is the case even –no, particularly– when what they are doing comes naturally. That’s what sin is and Christians are called to die to sin in order to live. Failing to correct, refusing to say the same thing God says about our sin, is a way of hating our children, and each other.
That being said, are the fellow-Christians you are letting speak into your life more like Accusers or Advocates?
An Advocate will call you to come clean and do right, but keeps coming back to making an argument on your behalf.
An Accuser can’t see past your sin.
An Advocate can see who you’re becoming.
An Accuser can see the worst of what you’ve done.
An Advocate sees the long story of your life.
An Accuser says, “I know you’re guilty.”
An Advocate says, “I’m on your side.”
That email I mentioned above was from an Advocate. He couldn’t wait to share with me things he saw in our home life that were beautiful to him. He was eager to heap praise and to point out what God was doing.
I needed that. Because, as I wrote to him,
“It’s easy enough to believe only the mess of imperfection that we can see of our lives, and be blind to the good things God is doing. Thanks for seeing that and for taking the time and energy to point it out.”
I don’t want to condone and celebrate sin. I want to avoid hitching a ride on the bandwagon where rebellion and death are celebrated.
But I want to be an advocate for my brothers and sisters in Christ. I want to see more than sin and the sinner, I want eyes also for the emerging (and already-positioned) saint. I want to be an ally, one who isn’t surprised at seeing sin in others, but one who is quick to extend grace.
I get that my categories of Advocate and Accuser are not air-tight by any means. But here’s my question.
Would you more easily be described as an Accuser, or an Advocate?
I’m not entirely comfortable with how long it takes me to think about how to answer that. So, onward…toward grace.
And a beautiful place to start is with our children.