As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject human authority but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.
Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
- Thessalonians 4:1-12
I worked as a waitress for a local Italian restaurant. Yeah, my wages were $2.63 an hour, but I worked Saturday nights, so the tips were great. I also loved my coworkers and bosses. Occasionally, though, I did serve those tables. Ones who made me feel inferior or dumb.
Example: one Saturday we had a reservation for 20 people. In our small restaurant, that meant serving few to no tables until the party arrived. This normally wasn’t a problem; the group tipped well, you caught smaller tables, and everything evened out.
However, this party arrived 40 minutes late, and 20 more people trickled in over thirty minutes. We kept up, but most of them were incredibly disrespectful from the moment they arrived.
The group of 40 stayed 3 hours and left $1.73 in tips. After splitting gratuity with my coworker, we barely made $10 each. The kicker? It was a popular church’s young adult group, and my coworker is a member of their church.
Later, another coworker said, “People like that are the reason I left church – it’s such a double standard.” And I agreed. As someone looking for a church home, I ruled theirs out based solely on their behavior.
It’s weird when someone lets God into their life but doesn’t allow Him to make renovations. It might be a person who gossips too much, or loves drama. A youth worker who tweets beer pong photos after her contract ends. A guy with racist Facebook posts.
Please don’t misunderstand me. These people aren’t evil, and I make mistakes ALL the time. I swear. I’m a sassy driver. I judge.
But the difference lies in attempting to halt bad habits versus making conscious decisions to not be Christ-like. Paul wrote that someone who rejects God’s call to holiness over impurity isn’t just ignoring human laws and social norms – they’re rejecting God’s authority in their life.
So: how can you handle an un-Christianly Christian?
First, don’t say, “Your hypocritical behavior sucks and it’s making people hate Jesus.” That doesn’t go well. Trust me. Instead, ease into a dialogue. We all need reminders to act right, and mentioning a personal goal might encourage mutual reflection. However, don’t avoid the conversation just because it is difficult.
Next, have patience, even if someone’s actions are harming your walk or ministry. We never know what others are struggling to let go. Thirdly, as Paul writes in 5:1, encourage this person. Build them up. Acknowledge their importance in your community. Poor behavior may change once a person feels acceptance.
Finally, examine your own walk. If improved spiritual health means less time around this person, do so. Paul advises that you mind your own business and treat others in such a way that anyone – Christian or otherwise – can respect the change God has had in your life.
That’s what I’m trying to do, and I invite you to do the same!
Discussion Questions: Are there actions or habits you've had that you later realized were reflecting poorly on your faith community? Have you ever had to handle a situation with an un-Christianly Christian? If so, how did you handle it? Have you ever been an un-Christianly Christian?
See more devotions from Sarah and our other Young Adult writers, or find our how you can become a writer yourself at our By Young Adults for Young Adults devotion page.