Why Would Anybody Do That?

Why in the world would anybody do that? Anybody in his right mind ought to know better than that. They aren’t honest.”

How I answer the question in my mind determines how I approach someone to confront and correct them. If they aren’t in their right mind and aren’t honest, I may not be working with good soil. But, I may be a poor judge of someone’s heart.

Proverbs 21:2 has been helpful to me as a beginning point in evaluating bizarre behavior:

Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
But the Lord weighs the hearts (NKJV).

The rule (proverb): everything a person does he believes it’s the best thing for him to do at the moment. Does that apply to big sins as well as medium and small sins? Would killing Jesus be a big sin?

Jesus must have read and believed this proverb when He said on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Peter agreed with this observation when he spoke to those who clamored for Jesus’ death: “Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers” (Acts 3:17).

Paul was sure of the same principle, applying it to the same people:

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:7, 8).

If I believe what Jesus, Peter, and Paul said, it will moderate how I talk with:

  • People who do and teach things that aren’t true.
  • Brethren who irritate me.
  • Elders who disappoint me.
  • Preachers who don’t “act like preachers.”
  • Weak brethren who fall.
  • Strong brethren uninformed on some things.
  • Our children.
  • Our spouse.

How Do I Minister to Those Who Don’t Know What They’re Doing?

  1. Teach them as I want to be taught when I don’t know what I’m doing (Matthew 7:12). Have you ever done anything you thought was right—the best thing to do but later discovered it was wrong? How did you want to be treated? I don’t want to be insulted, degraded, and treated like a dishonest person. I can explain and share what I’ve learned without inferring they’re stupid because they’ve not already understood this. When Peter told the people on Pentecost, they changed their minds and changed their ways (Acts 2:14-47).
  2. Show them by example, especially when I am very irritated by their actions.  Often when I’m overly irritated with someone, it’s when they remind me of something I haven’t realized yet.
  3. Learn from them. We compliment someone when we recognize everything they do isn’t wrong. I do myself a favor when I realize because some things others do or say may be wrong, everything they do or say isn’t wrong. It’s OK to admit that and learn from what they do that’s right. Having the mind of Christ, I am to value others better than myself (Philippians 2:3).
  4. Suffer for them to help them. Jesus prayed for people who didn’t know what they were doing (Luke 23:34). I don’t think His prayer was answered then. For some, it was answered at Pentecost when Peter gave them correct information on what they’d done wrong they thought was right (Acts 2:36-38). But Jesus’ suffering on their behalf on the cross made possible the blessing Peter promised to those who chose to accept it. It wasn’t the first time Jesus didn’t get what he asked for (Matthew 26:39). When we serve others, we often do more than having ready answers to Bible questions with much heat and little light.
  5. Be patient. I won’t fix everything in fifteen minutes. Some people are slow learners. Peter had several opportunities to understand the no-partiality rule (Acts 2:38, 39; Acts 10, 11; Galatians 2:11-16).
  6. Some people learn when they see someone else doing what they’re doing. When David heard about a sheep-stealer, with Nathan’s help, David saw David as he was (2 Samuel 12:1-13).

When you talk with someone, what are you aiming for? It’ll make a difference in what you hit!

How have you approached people who don’t know what they’re doing?

(Visited 692 times, 83 visits today)
Jerrie Barber
Servant of Jesus, husband to Gail, father to Jerrie Wayne Barber, II and Christi Parsons, grandfather, great-grandfather, Interim Preacher, Shepherd coach, Ventriloquist, barefoot runner, ride a cruiser bicycle

5 Responses to “Why Would Anybody Do That?

  • Gary C. Hampton
    6 years ago

    Jerrie, I have learned that questions are the best way to teach someone whose position seems totally out of synch with the Bible. First, questions allow me to learn what their position is. Second, answers allow me the opportunity to further explore in a way that causes them and me to think.

  • Usually when I approach someone who apparently doesn’t realize that what they are doing is wrong, I will ask them, “What are you doing?” Based on their response, I will try different non-confrontational ways to help them sort it out for themselves. One way I find effective is to tap into their sense of empathy by posing a similar scenario to them and asking them what they would suggest that the person in the scenario should do, or what they would say to that person. My hope is that they will come to the correct solution themselves, thereby ensuring a higher likelihood that they will follow through with their own suggestion/plan.

    • Jerrie Barber
      6 years ago

      Gary and J. N.,

      I think both of you are thinking and sharing the same idea at the same time.

      Must be something to that.

      I appreciate both of you sharing that approach. It is much kinder than “getting someone straightened out” and saves hurt and embarrassment on my part when I don’t fully understand them.

  • Jeff W. Smith
    6 years ago

    This may or may not apply to your article. But it has had a profound impact on me. In the 70’s, in my first work, and old lady was present who had a constant “nervous tick”. I was told she had had the condition since the death of her grown son. Back in the country, in poverty, her son had pains in his abdomen. She applied hot compresses in an effort to comfort and heal. In the end, when a doctor was finally consulted, he made it clear that applying heat was the very thing that killed him. Cold compresses might have helped. Hot compresses hurt. Upon learning this truth, she was never the same. She was sweet, a Christian, and lovely in spirit. But but she was very stricken in the knowledge that even her best intention, was wrong. I guess this reminds me of Proverbs 21:2. Her way was wrong, her heart was right. It is a great sermon illustration that I have very seldom used since I preach 15 miles from where that precious lady lived. She left this life long ago and for all who loved her, we had as much joy for her final peace, as we did grief over absence. She taught me much.

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