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What should one do when believers behave badly in public?

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You are about to read a sad tale told with a heavy heart. As witness to the events that unfolded, this writer initially felt frustrated. It happened at a mall in Merritt Island, Fla. when a group of Christian women gathered to see a movie. Other than the woman who invited us, we were meeting them for the first time. Here’s what happened.

As the group waited for some late arrivals, one woman spoke about how she planned to pay the reduced rate for seniors. Even though she wasn’t old enough, her appearance could have fooled anyone. She repeated her intentions over several minutes before going to buy a ticket. When she returned, she bragged about how the teller had sold her the cheaper ticket without asking her age. She then encouraged another woman, who also wasn’t a senior, to try it.

Exactly what happened here? The woman planned to fool the ticket teller. She lied by omission. When charged the cheaper ticket price, she had one last chance to do the right thing. Instead, she was proud she had accomplished her goal, and tried to enlist someone else in her charade. The response of the group to this deception was silence.

As believers, our behavior is supposed to be above reproach at all times. In reality, we can fall short – often. But, what’s a person to do when they witness such a blatant disregard for biblical principles? Should one confront the woman, whom they don’t know? Should they speak to another member of the group who was acquainted with the person? Should they quietly approach the theater manager and pay the difference in the tickets price? Or, should they do nothing?

After considering these options this writer did nothing on the outside, and here is why.

Inwardly we prayed and asked our heavenly Father for wisdom on how to deal with the situation. The option of confronting the person on the spot was rejected for several reasons. It would cause the group embarrassment. And, without a prior relationship, rebuking them wouldn’t have been appropriate. Their situation was an unknown. They could be a new believer who has yet to gain the maturity to discern right from wrong. They could have personal issues that contribute to their need to behave the way they do.

The same reasons applied to speaking with another member of the group about what occurred. Also, the decision to confront their friend was theirs to choose. Finally, paying the difference in the tickets price would have exposed the teller to reprimand.

Our response, to pray about what to do, brought us peace. We also asked God to lead her into the knowledge of the truth about what she did. And that by grace she would be able to repent, allowing Him to mold her character to be as Lord Jesus’. Then, we enjoyed the movie.

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