I have always struggled with the concept of giving other adults “correction” in brotherly love. Mostly because it makes me feel uncomfortable. I know that my past is speckled with mistakes of various kinds and that alone makes me feel ill-equipped to lead others away from the transgressions that they currently find themselves knee deep, or worse.
However, we are not called to live a life of comfort. The Bible does instruct those of us who are led by the Spirit to restore the ones who have strayed in an attitude of humility. This is where we desperately need discernment! If we see someone struggling in an area that the Bible makes clear can serve as a stumbling block in their life, we need to take pause before opening our mouths. First of all, we need to seek the Lord’s face because we should never move forward in counseling without Him. Secondly, if we still feel the pull to approach them, we need to spend time in the Word looking for Scriptures that will point them back on the path towards righteousness. Lastly, we should be in prayer that the Lord would soften their hearts to be receptive to the words that He is giving us to speak to them.
If we don’t make certain that we are responding to the Lord’s leading in these very sticky situations, we can be met with some unwelcome responses.
- They may turn the tables on you: “Who are you to say one word to me when you yourself used to do the very same thing?!”
- Perhaps they will point the blame elsewhere: “Well, so-and-so does it too and I don’t see you getting in their business!”
- Worst of all, they may attempt to justify their actions: “I don’t feel convicted about it and it’s not harming anyone else, so how about you just back off?!”
Proverbs 9 warns us:
“If you reason with an arrogant cynic, you’ll get slapped in the face; confront bad behavior and get a kick in the shins. So don’t waste your time on a scoffer; all you’ll get for your pains is abuse. But if you correct those who care about life, that’s different—they’ll love you for it! Save your breath for the wise—they’ll be wiser for it; tell good people what you know—they’ll profit from it.” (Vs. 7-9 The Message)
These words are basically telling us to “know our audience.” It will do us no good, nor the person in question, if they are closed off to the Word of God. Only those who seek to honor God with their lives will be open to loving & gentle instruction.
“As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.” (Titus 3:10-11 ESV)
I don’t believe that anyone is a lost cause, however the words of Titus instruct us to know when to step back. It is not our job to “save” anyone. We can point them towards the One who can and trust that God will do what only He is able.