Recently a friend wrote to me about a church in which the well-meaning elders choose to believe anyone who claims to be repentant, even those who have been living a double life (such as a well-respected church person who turns out to be a secret abuser or adulterer). She said,

“They say they want to believe the best and take people at their word. They would rather err on the side of grace.”

Right off I knew something was wrong with that statement. In the case of someone who has been living a double life, we dare not take that person at face value. It would be not only foolish, but potentially destructive, to do so.

Scott Peterson, convicted murderer, shedding crocodile tears in a 2003 interview. His were tears of “sorrow” rather than “repentance,” but they show how quickly and easily some people can manufacture fake tears.  If you’re not familiar with the story of his conviction of the murder of his wife Laci in 2002, you can see more about that here:

On which side shall we err?

When people say they want to “err on the side of” anything, they’re acknowledging that it’s easy to make a mistake. When it comes to receiving a show of repentance, the ways to err seem to come down to two main possibilities:

You can be cynical, refusing to believe anyone who claims repentance.

Or you can be gullible, believing what you’re told without question.

When church leaders say they want to “err on the side of grace,” what they’re really saying is that they would rather be gullible than cynical.

Apparently gullibility feels more like grace. But gullibility isn’t any more grace than cynicism is.

Grace is the power of God at work  in His people in a variety of ways that flows out to others, by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

But “erring on the side of grace” is an attractive option for busy pastors . . .

Because it’s easier?

Church leaders want to see good things happen in the lives of their people. If someone who has been living a double life repents, they can thank God, breathe a sigh of relief, and record a success.

That’s one more thing wolves are counting on.  

But the fact is . . .






Go here to download your free Guide, How to Enjoy the Bible Again (when you’re ready) After Spiritual Abuse (without feeling guilty or getting triggered out of your mind). You’ll receive access to both print and audio versions of the Guide (audio read by me). I’m praying it will be helpful.

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