My wife had a serious talk with me. I had to correct someone close to me. He was getting out of hand and she felt that as his friend, I had to talk to him about it. Friends have to help one another stay on track.
I must confess I did not agree with her. I said to her that he was an adult and old enough to make his own decisions. Who was I to correct him?
The next morning, I read this verse: 16… Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. Wow, it was not a coincidence that I was reading this scripture at this moment. Actually, I was astonished to see how God guided me through his Word that had been written years ago.
The instruction was clear and my wife was right. I had to help my pal. It was my responsibility and if I understood it right, also a command to help those next to me if they were getting out of hand.
However, it is not so easy. Immediately I was filled with doubt – who am I to want to correct others? I have so many faults myself. Now and then I go wrong too – who am I to point other people’s mistakes?
I suspect that we, who struggle ourselves, are best equipped to help others. We know where the weak spots in our armour are. We know where it is so easy to do the wrong thing. We know where we have to put the guards so that we don’t slip out. We know where to watch out and where to let go. Actually, we’re the best person to walk with our friends and family and prevent us from losing direction.
I watched a moving video in which an older tourist and his wife were caught in a mud-filled river. A fisherman came running. First, he took the man’s enormous and expensive camera and the woman’s backpack and put them in a safe place.
Then he returned to pull out the man, but after struggling for some time he realised that he was not strong enough to pull out the big man just like that. The fisherman then tried to pull out the woman, but also didn’t succeed in doing that. Then he did the most wonderful thing. He lay down behind the woman so that she could use his body to escape from the mud.
He did the same with the old man. After lots of struggling and pulling and pushing the old man managed to escape from the mud and crawl to safety. This fisherman lay down in the mud so that the two tourists could be saved.
And the most wonderful thing was that after all of this, he simply greeted them and struggled back to his boat over the mud. He did not wait to be rewarded for his good deed. No, people help one another.
That is exactly what Paul wants to teach us here. We must help one another to get out of the mud of life. That means we not only show them where they’ve gone wrong, but that we are also prepared to help them. Sometimes we will be expected to get our hands dirty, maybe even put our own lives at risk to help the people around us.
It’s not easy. But we must obey this command. Maybe we’ll lose a friend or two. Maybe they’ll come back after some time and thank you for helping them to get out of the mud.
Who of your friends sometimes cross the lines?
Who do you have to help?
How do you have to help them?
Lord, it’s not easy. We do not automatically correct our friends. We actually don’t want to do it, because we often do not feel up to it. Actually, we’re afraid, because maybe we’ll lose the friend. Please help us to be sensitive when we try and bring our friends back on track. Amen.