"Be alert. If you see your friend going wrong, correct him."
- Luke 17:3 MSG
When one of my husband's friends came to visit us recently, he and I got involved in some "lively discussions" about right and wrong, and the Bible's perspective on certain issues. I've know this man for many years, and in all that time, I've watched him struggle with his faith. It was obvious to me that there was a part of him that wanted to believe, so when he continually asked me questions about God and the Bible, I would take the time and trouble to try to minister the truth to him. On this most recent occasion, I had to give him what I call a "spiritual spanking," and by the end of the evening, I thought for sure he would never want to speak to me again. After he left, my husband told me that he said, "I love your wife! She makes so much sense, and I always feel better after talking to her!"
This experience made me think of a verse in Proverbs that says, "He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue." (Proverbs 28:23 NIV) No matter how many times I feel the need to rebuke and correct others as a dedicated follower of Christ, I am still continually amazed at how many people respond by thanking me, respecting me, and seeking my counsel again and again. When that happens, I can't help asking myself, "What if I didn't make the effort to correct that person? What if I automatically assumed that they would never listen to me?" This was the case with a married woman who wrote me about her illicit communication with an old boyfriend of hers. Her conscience was beginning to plague her, and the Holy Spirit was dealing with her, and she felt the need to confide in me about her sin. When I first read her letter, I was tempted to respond with a brief, generic reply, feeling sure that she had no desire to change her course of action. But then I sensed the Lord directing me to take the time to correct and counsel her. I had no idea how she responded to my rebuke until she wrote me sometime later and told me that she confessed her sinful behavior to her husband, ended her communication with the other man, and finally made the decision to take her husband's name after more than 10 years of marriage. She thanked me profusely for my involvement, giving me credit for saving her marriage and her relationship with the Lord.
You may have people you care about--perhaps even in your own home--who are not walking with God, and you may have tried everything to help them see the light, to no avail. Yet the Lord could use you to minister truth to someone else whose entire life will be radically changed as a result. Sometimes, we are not the ones God will use to draw our loved ones to Him. But if we will get busy ministering to the people He puts in our pathway who WILL listen to us, He will bring someone into our loved ones' lives who will be equipped by Him to get through to them. Scripture says: "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourageŚwith great patience and careful instruction." (2 Timothy 4:2 NIV) As we continually make ourselves available to the Lord, He will make it clear which people are in desperate need of correction and instruction from us. Jesus didn't go around rebuking everyone He came in contact with. He was always sensitive and obedient to the leadership of the Holy Spirit in His dealings with others, and we should be, too. In the Book of Revelation, Jesus says, "The people I love, I call to account--prod and correct and guide so that they'll live at their best." (Revelation 3:19 MSG) We are being Christlike when we administer Spirit-led spankings out of our love for others. And as we obey the Lord in this area, we will win the approval of a loving and grateful God.
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for the times when You desired that I correct someone, and I disobeyed You out of fear, stubbornness, or indifference. Give me a heart like Yours, and fill me with Your wisdom, so that I'll be thoroughly equipped to do Your will in these matters from now on. I pray that "whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome," I would "show people in what way their lives are wrong," according to Your perfect will and timing. (2 Timothy 4:2 AMP)
- J. M. Farro