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We should never gloat over another person's mistakes. That's not the love of God. The Bible makes this very plain in 1 Corinthians 13:6: "Love rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth." Instead of enjoying the fact that a brother or sister in Christ has fallen, we should be concerned that he or she gave in to the temptation in the first place. Too often we sit back and do nothing instead of trying to help the person get back up on his feet. That's a real shame.

James 5:16 says to confess your faults one to another—that ye may be healed. In other words, confess your struggles to a trusted friend, and allow that confession to strengthen your resolve to overcome temptation. However, few Christians apply this principle. Why? Because too many of us operate in judgment and self-righteous anger, leaving little room for mercy, compassion or help. In fact, members of the Body of Christ seem to be the first to kick you when you're down! Because of this, in an effort to avoid having our reputations smeared, most of us would rather not confess anything to anyone.

God's system is an exchange of weaknesses and strengths: The strong bear the infirmities of the weak. In real covenant friendship, we exchange weaknesses and strengths, until we eliminate the weaknesses. But we have to walk in love in order for people to trust us.

Covering Others With Love
I like this translation of 1 Corinthians 13: "It [love] does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything." (1 Cor. 13:6,7 AMP)

I've known preachers who have fallen into sin. One of them had to check himself into an institution. He was shocked to see me the first time I went to visit him. He was so sure that, like many others, I had only come to hurt him more with words of condemnation. He actually asked me to leave, but I refused. I had already predetermined that we would have communion together that day, so I found a cracker and some juice. Then I sat down with him to make a covenant agreement with him. I grabbed his face and said, "I promise to love you forever. And if you should die, I'll see to it that your wife is taken care of and that your children get a first-class education. I will not leave you, no matter what you do. I love you unconditionally."

He was so moved by the level of God's compassion—by the fact that God would actually send someone to convey His love at such a time—that he was blown away. We both cried. I still cry every time we get together, because I think, what if I had killed him with my words and actions? Where would he be today? Now this man of God is whole. He made a complete recovery and is even more anointed now than he was before.

There's no greater joy than seeing people climb out of the pit of despair and press on to higher levels of spirituality. That's the way God meant it to be. However, there will always be some who say, "Shame on those preachers! They need to get up and confess exactly what they did."

Unfortunately, most Christians are not mature enough to hear these men and women of God confess their sins. When counseling fellow ministers, I strongly suggest they tell the congregation, "I have sinned, and I'm in recovery. Please pray for me." That's all anyone needs to know.

God Doesn't Change His Mind
It's so easy to point a finger at high-profile individuals while their sins are broadcasted all over the media and ours remain hidden. But no matter how messed up some people may be, they are still equipped to continue the work God has called them to do. The Bible says, "For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance." (Rom. 11:29)

That means God doesn't change His mind about the anointing he has placed on men and women of God. That's not to say that they can sin and still have the power of God flowing freely in their lives. What it means is that, although their sins may hinder the anointing, God does not remove the anointing from their lives altogether. As a matter of fact, He restores it in even greater portions when they repent and change their ways.

Jesus' biggest challenge was not with sinners but with those in the church. It wasn't the sinners who crucified Jesus—it was the religious ones, the Pharisees and Sadducees, who convinced the Roman officials to kill Him. When we see our brothers and sisters in sin, that is our cue to begin lifting them up in prayer. It is vital that we learn how to cover them with love and silence—keeping our mouths closed. I know certain things about people that I'll take to heaven with me, because true, committed love covers with silence.

Now, this principle may sound strange. But covering love with silence doesn't mean covering up something illegal. It simply means that we are not to expose the sin of others through gossip and backbiting. Unfortunately, some people think they have been called to do just the opposite. You may be thinking, Brother Dollar, I'm confused! Does God want me to cover up sin or to confess it? Scripture answers this question clearly.
Hatred stirs up contentions, but love covers all transgressions. (Prov. 10:12 AMP)

Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others]. (1 Peter 4:8 AMP)
Walking in God's love means that you simply do not use someone else's mistake to your advantage. Unfortunately, this scenario is altogether too common in the Body of Christ. What often happens is that somebody pours his heart out, we promise to keep it to ourselves and then we get on the telephone and tell everyone in the church what he's done.

In essence, we slice up that person's heart into tiny pieces and give them to whoever is interested in taking them. To make matters worse, we try to justify our gossip by saying, "The reason I'm telling you is that you need to know what to pray about concerning so-and-so." Before you know it, this "prayer chain" goes around full circle and gets back to the one who poured his heart out. As a result, this brother feels rejected, condemned and worthless. Eventually he leaves the church and moves out of the protective circle of the will of God.

Be Willing To Listen
Even though we have a love relationship with the Father, every now and again it's nice to talk to someone we can see and touch—someone who can correct us, put his arms around us, say everything is going to be all right and encourage us that we're going to make it. It's for this reason that we ought to feel privileged when someone trusts us enough to say, "I need to tell you something."

However, there are those who are more concerned about their reputations than about walking in love. They don't want to have anything to do with certain people because they fear hanging around them will cause others to think poorly of them.

That's tragic. We'll never truly experience the fullness of God—His prosperity, healing, deliverance and peace—if we remain in bondage to people. We can't bring a sinner to Christ if we're too ashamed to walk down the street with him! "Well, Brother Dollar, I don't want to walk with him because he smells like alcohol, and if somebody from the church sees us, they'll think I'm drinking too." That's a poor excuse to tell God on Judgment Day.

Are You Without Sin?
God can't use us if we're thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought. What do you think the religious leaders of Israel thought when Jesus accepted a dinner invitation from a sinner? How do you think they reacted when, after bringing Jesus a woman caught in adultery, He bent down to the ground and said, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone?" (John 8:7)

In other words, check your motivation for exposing the sin of others. Do you have an intense desire to see that person delivered, or do you want more news for the grapevine? Our job as Christians is not to condemn those who fall, but to help them find the way out of the pit. When people come and ask about certain situations, just put it right back on them. You can say something like, "Oh, you want to talk about sister so-and-so? Well, let's take a look at your life first. Do you have any skeletons in your closet? It seems to me like you have too much cleaning to do before trying to expose someone else!"

Be Prudent With Your Testimony
We must also remember to be good stewards of our personal testimonies. That means we must allow God the freedom to direct us in what to share, how much information to give and whom to give it to. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." So unless the Lord prompts you to minister to others by sharing the sin of the past, leave things as they are. Sometimes what people don't know about you won't hurt them.

You see, people are not quite ready in their human nature to deal with what you used to do. For example, you may have been a prostitute or a drug addict. You may even have been an alcoholic or a homosexual. And although the blood of Jesus has wiped away the sin of the past, there are those who are not quite mature enough to handle a testimony of that magnitude. That's why it's so important that we learn how to walk in discretion and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us.

We Must Confess Our Sins
While God's love may cover sins, it exposes our own. Proverbs 28:13 says, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: But whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." We must confess our sins to the Father, because sin hinders our relationship with Him. However, the Bible says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9) In other words, God is bound by His Word to cleanse us of all wrongdoing when we confess it to Him.

Don't Violate the Law of Love
Unfortunately we often put God's plan in reverse. We want to use love to cover up our own wrongdoing, while exposing someone else's. We justify our actions by telling ourselves, "Oh, I'm not condemning him. I'm merely making an observation!" And then we turn around and say, "I believe the Lord will meet all of my needs for this day. Money cometh!"

You cannot violate God's principles and expect Him to work on your behalf. By doing so, you cancel out the blessings He desires to shower upon you. It's time to stop trying to take advantage of the system God has put in place. There is no easy way out of sin. However, the love of God can ease the pain that results from the unwise decisions we make. And by adhering to the law of love, we experience the fullness of God as never before.

Source: Lord, Teach Me How To Love by Dr. Creflo A. Dollar, Jr.
Excerpt permission granted by Harrison House Publishers

Author Biography

Creflo A. Dollar
Web site: World Changers Ministries
 
Creflo Dollar is the founder and senior pastor of World Changers Church International (WCCI) in College Park, Georgia; World Changers Church-New York; and a host of fellowship churches throughout the United States and internationally. WCCI also has offices in Australia (serving the Asia-Pacific region), South Africa, Canada, the United Kingdom, India, and the Ukraine.
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