What does the name, Justin Bieber mean to you? Most likely it will evoke thoughts on the recent scandals surrounding the pop singer. This is often what happens when celebrities make mistakes, or do the wrong thing. The media will pounce on any bit of information and usually blow it out of proportion, while the fans will attempt to cover the damage. They are human, but they are not treated as such and it is often the same with Biblical figures. Many Christians will praise them for their great deeds and the non-believers will tear them down for their mistakes. It is forgotten that they too, were human. The Bible does not leave this out, the problem is that it can be ignored, glossed over. The truth is this, the Bible is brutal, and it does not leave out the squeamish bits. It was meant to make you squirm.
I’m going to start with the beginning. The book of Genesis is commonly believed to have been written by Moses and as there isn’t any very good evidence to dispute the fact, I will leave it at that. This book details the creation of Earth and mankind and its subsequent downfall. It is here that man first defies God and it is here that God first makes his promise of salvation.
Let’s look at the story of Noah. It probably brings to mind the story of the flood, the ark and the animals. I’m not going to talk about that today. There was the flood, the near destruction of mankind and afterwards there was the rainbow, the promise. We’ve all heard this story many times but what about the bit after the rainbow? Let’s look at that.
And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. –Genesis 9:20-21
I don’t believe I ever had a lesson on this story in Sunday school. Noah got drunk and naked in his tent; I think I would’ve remembered that. At first glance, this passage makes no sense, it doesn’t seem to have any place here, perhaps it was an accident. However there are no accidents in the Bible; everything is there for a reason. So we must take a closer look.
What we see here is a human Noah, he makes mistakes and does the wrong thing. This is the same man who in an earlier chapter was declared a great man of faith. Yet, as the Bible often tells us, even great men of faith make mistakes. This doesn’t make it excusable; it just means they are as prone to sin as we are. We fall often and sometimes we’re in a backward slide before we can even blink. It’s tough to get out of those situations but not impossible, we have a great God on our side. He chose to save Noah, even though he was a drunk. Sure, we could make the argument that he was the best out of the lot, but that’s not the point. God could’ve wiped out the human race, but he chose to save us in spite of our fallibility.
This is amazing. It is inconceivable. It is incomprehensible. It is a whole list of awe-inspired words. No matter how many times we fall, God is always there to set us back on our feet. Remember David? He was a man after God’s own heart, and yet he did some terrible things. He had an affair with a married woman, and then sent her husband to be killed so that he could have her (2 Samuel 11). He did nothing when his son raped his step-daughter and after all this he was still a man after God’s own heart. We are loved more than we can ever imagine, and that these great men of faith fell so hard and yet remained so faithful is a testament to what we should be like.
And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. –Genesis 9:22
It gets worse from here. Not only does Noah get drunk and naked but his younger son sees him. What is his reaction to seeing his father in this sorry state? He goes and tells his brothers, spreading his father’s shame. This is neither necessary nor right. When we see sin in someone’s life, our first response should not be to tell our friends. It gets even worse though. The Hebrew word for “tell” here literally says, “told with delight.” Ham deliberately went out and mocked his father.
We are told very clearly that this is to be avoided. Galatians 6:1, 1 Corinthians 13:6, and Matthew 18:15 tell us that we are to correct our brothers and sisters, not mock and scorn them. If a student is failing a course, the teacher does not stand him up in front of the class and declare him a failure. Rather, the teacher will take the student aside and try to correct the problem.
Our duty as Christians, when we see a brother or sister in Christ doing something wrong, we are to tell them. This does not mean sharing about them during a prayer meeting or a Bible study; this means taking them aside and telling them something is wrong. Of course, there is a right way, and a wrong way to go about doing that.
And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid [it] upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces [were] backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness. -Genesis 9:23
The older two sons, rather than join in the mockery, behaved appropriately in covering up their father. They exposed him as little as possible and covered him up. Oftentimes, when we see sin in another Christian’s life, we ignore it or maybe we do the wrong thing. There is a right method to it. Most importantly, we need to be sensitive to the other person; we may not be seeing everything. If we can understand how and why the person did what they did, the root of the problem is found. Dealing with sin in a Christian community is a sensitive topic and we must tread very carefully here.
Obviously everyone agrees it should be dealt with but we can disagree as to how. There are some who hold very firmly to Matthew 7:3 and believe that everyone should deal with their own problems. This is not the way a community works. The passage in Matthew is referring to criticism not correction, these two should not be confused. Other people however, may take it too far; this would be when it becomes judgmental. Constantly finding, or looking for faults in others. No, we are to examine ourselves first but if we notice someone is struggling in some area, or has fallen, it is our Christian duty to help them get back on their feet.
We could do a whole Bible study on correction of sins but for now, I will simply refer you to Matthew 18:15-17 which provides excellent instruction.
It’s good to be reminded every now and again that even the great men in the Bible were far from perfect and that God still loves us. It’s also easy to look at the Bible and dismiss parts that we don’t like, but that would be a mistake. There is so much we can learn from the Old Testament if we look at it through the eyes of the New. We as a body of believers are to act as Shem and Japheth and help our brothers and sisters in need. It’s not an easy task to be called to, but it is necessary and good.