Aaron Waid
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What is the right way to help another person see the error in their ways?

Let me cut to the chase – if you really want to follow Jesus, there sometimes have to be a few difficult conversations, particularly if you are leading others. Our calling is to love people, but we also need to find ways to speak truth and show the light to those who are struggling.

Finding balance and a holy attitude in confronting sin and problems is very difficult for most people. We tend toward extremes: either being quick to critique, but struggle with compassion…or afraid to point out flaws, but then dwell on the injustice. 

Both paths lead us away from peace and joy. For the person who is quick to challenge, they often realize that others begin to lie to them and hide, simply avoiding creating a confrontational scenario. 

For those who avoid confrontation, they are at risk for bitterness and resentment, as well as being unable to effectively lead and guide others. 

It’s a serious struggle for many people that can often define and limit their lives.

But Jesus didn’t struggle with speaking the truth. 

Throughout His ministry, Jesus effectively confronted wrong-doing and guided others into new ways of thinking. Sometimes people listened, sometimes they didn’t. But Jesus was never personally affected or hurt by His challenging encounters. 

How did He do it?

Passion Week centers around the most serious conflicts and struggles Jesus faced during His earthly life, and there is much to glean about how we can be more like Him by closely examining how He lived and acted. 

In this devotion, we’re going to examine one of the most wild encounters Jesus had during His ministry, and look closely at a very easy to miss detail that can help us understand how to be more like Jesus. 

How can we effectively confront sin in a holy manner?

Mark 11:15-19

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, 16 and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. 17 And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”

18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

19 When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

The clearing of the Temple is one of the most physically striking moments in all of Jesus’ ministry. Much of what we tend to focus on about the life of Jesus centers around scenes where He was teaching a captive audience or healing with compassion. 

We often have very gentle ideas about Jesus in our mind when we envision what He was like.

The clearing of the Temple stands in stark contrast to the popular images of Jesus we tend to hold. Consumed with holy zeal, Jesus stormed into the Temple, no doubt frightening and confusing to many who were present.

The money changers and animal sellers were an industry that had been created over the years to exploit the desperation of those hoping to offer a sacrifice to God. Only perfect animals could be offered for sacrifice, and of course, the most assured way to get a perfect animal was to buy one at the Temple. The money changers existed to exchange Greek and Roman currency into Jewish money, the only one that was accepted at the Temple. 

If it sounds like shady work…well it was. But the people involved with the practice were only doing what they were permitted to do within the religious system of the time. They didn’t have power or control, they were just regular people making a living the way they best knew how.

Passion Week Devotions | Holy Week Devotions | Easter Devotional | Lent Devotions

Imagine for a moment you were one of the money changers or dove sellers.

Monday is just another regular work-day, setting up shop, going about the work that you’ve been doing for years. As the Temple begins to fill with customers, you suddenly hear shouting and alarm spread throughout the space. 

A man you’ve never seen before approaches, grabs the table you’re sitting at, and flips it over in front of you while saying, “This is a den of robbers!” Stunned, you scramble to collect birds and money while watching as this same man grabs yet another table and turns it. 

In the midst of the chaos, some shout at Him, while others point and laugh, saying, “He’s crazy! What’s wrong with this guy?”

How would you respond if this happened to you?

Would you be angry or scared? Would you run away, or shout back at Him?

We often villainize the money-changers and bird sellers at the Temple, and point to them as examples of corruption in religion. 

But…how did the money-changers and bird sellers actually respond to Jesus?

Their response is subtle in Scripture that it’s easy to miss.

18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.

Rather than fleeing the Temple, or setting up shop again and getting back to work, Mark depicts the money changers and bird sellers as spending the rest of the day at the Temple, listening to Jesus. 

Note that it says that he “taught them” in v. 17, not berated or demeaned them.

Though He had completely ruined their business for the day, Jesus clearly won them over, at least enough to remain there and listen to what He had to say. 

The power and authority of His teaching were no doubt revelatory for them, as He almost certainly further explained His problems with their practices and what they should instead do to create an actual faith connection with God.

Rather than chasing the money-changers and bird-sellers completely from the Temple, Jesus ended their practices and then stayed with them the rest of the day, according to v. 19.

Jesus knew it wasn’t enough to simply address their sin.

Now, the practice of exchanging money and selling birds didn’t end forever that day at the Temple. And it’s entirely possible that Jesus’ conviction and execution negated much of the good that He taught in their minds.

But perhaps some did quit their jobs. Maybe they became part of the early church. Perhaps some were among the 500 people who witnessed Jesus after the Resurrection (1 Cor. 15:6). 

But regardless of their fate, Jesus teaches us something incredibly important and powerful in His willingness to stay with and teach the money-changers and bird-sellers.

Jesus shows us what it looks like to address sin and love people. 

We cannot simply attack sin and leave. 

Jesus was always willing to sit and talk with those He accused of being far from God. 

But going after sin, without offering love and relationship, does absolutely nothing to rectify the issue. That’s not what witnessing on behalf of God looks like – and it certainly is not how Jesus operated.

Even with only a few days left to live, Jesus was willing to stay at the Temple, teaching and preaching, not just the money-changers and bird-sellers, but all who were there present. 

That was the ministry God put before Him that day, and He honored it thoroughly, even as His final moments approached.

In order to be more like Jesus, we have to find a way to both take on sin and love people at the same time. No, it isn’t easy, and not every situation or scenario is the right time or place to take on sin.

Don’t forget, the leaders of the time began looking for ways to kill Jesus for what He did at the temple.

But to be more like Jesus, we have to find an appropriate balance and attitude in our lives to both take on sin in the right way and maintain love for others in the process.

So how can we approach this issue of confronting sin in the way Jesus did ?

The following are five ideas to help us be more in-line with God.

  1. Begin with ourselves. If we struggle with the same issues we want to address in someone else, then how effective can we be? Be humble and honest with yourself…perhaps the other person needs an accountability partner to work on the issue together.
  2. Ask God to help purify our intentions. If we truly want to address an issue with holy motives, it begins by prayerfully turning to God and asking Him to help us have love at the center of our actions.
  3. Try to have understanding and compassion as to why the sin or problem exists in the first place. Jesus was always willing to understand the reasoning behind sin. This didn’t mean He excused or accepted it, but He did have compassion on circumstances that led others into sin.
  4. Be willing to listen to what they say in return. You only need to turn to Jesus’ encounter with the Woman at the Well in John 4 to see a prominent example of Jesus’ willingness to engage and have a back and forth.
  5. Make a plan to follow up. Always be willing to continue a conversation or provide support. If another person is struggling with an issue or sin, it isn’t likely to be resolved immediately. If God has placed it on your heart to confront them about their issue, then that also means He wants you to continue to support and love them.

The call to follow Jesus isn’t always easy. In fact, most of the time it isn’t. But that doesn’t mean we too can’t find joy and peace in our journey with God. If we model our actions after Jesus and depend on God throughout, we will find that God’s comfort will supersede in areas where we once found stressful or problematic.

The people of God have always been directed to confront injustice and sin, but Jesus reminds us of the compassion and support that needs to accompany our righteousness.

As we venture further into Passion Week, let’s cling to the model of Jesus and allow Him to shape and mold us into a deeper reflection of who He is and how He both corrects and loves at the same time. We will be better people and the Kingdom will be stronger because of our willingness to let Jesus lead the way.

Have you missed any of the Passion Week Devotions?

Check out our other Passion Week Devotions here.

Passion Week Devotions | Holy Week Devotions | Easter Devotional | Lent Devotions

Have you missed any of the Passion Week Devotions?

Check out other Passion Week Devotions here.

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.