read > Joshua 7:1-26
Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD, the God of Israel, by telling the truth. Make your confession and tell me what you have done” (v. 19).
Historians weren’t sure if there was any truth to the rumor that the Reformer Huldrych Zwingli had been sexually promiscuous with the daughter of a prominent citizen. Misbehaving priests were not uncommon in the 16th century, yet such gossip seemed like something his Roman Catholic enemies might spread to discredit Zwingli and his Reformation. The ambiguity lasted until the 19th century, when Johannes Schulthess discovered a letter written by Zwingli in the archives in Zurich. There Zwingli admitted that the charge was true but insisted he was now committed to a chaste life.
Schulthess didn’t want to tarnish the legacy of his hero, so he showed the letter to his student and then held it in the flame of his candle. After a moment he had second thoughts, and he pulled the letter away to preserve what was left. He turned to his student and proclaimed, “Protestantism is the truth in all circumstances.”
It’s tempting to cover up a friend’s ugly sin, but ultimately we are causing more harm as we delay the inevitable. I know a missionary who sexually abused children on the field. Rather than turn him over to the police, his missionary agency brought him home for unspecified reasons. Thirty years later, the now adult women are telling the world what he did. They are still searching for healing, and the reputation of the man and the agency are shot.
Proverbs 28:13 states, “People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.” If this is true, then we do our friends no favors when we cover for them or excuse their sin. They need us to do for them what they are unwilling to do themselves—expose their sin and call them to repentance. This may be the hardest conversation you will ever have, but if you love them, it’s what you must do.