Show one another the way
In the last chapter of the letter to the Galatians Paul gives practical advice. The first piece of advice is not always that easy to do: 1Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out.
Not everybody finds it easy to go to someone and point out their sin. I’m not the kind of person who can walk up to another person, grab him and ask what his case is with the Lord. Are you going to turn or burn? And immediately I want to apologise and say this instruction by Paul is not my gift. The next guy will have to do it.
But Paul’s instruction is not meant for specific people with specific gifts. No, each of us is responsible for pointing out to our friends when they’re doing wrong. God wants to use friends to keep friends on the right track. Most times we as friends have the authority and power to correct one another.
But there are a few conditions. It’s not up to us to simply decide to grab the one who in our opinion is doing wrong by the neck and make him or her understand that he or she has lost the way. No, the Holy Spirit must persuade us to go and talk to someone. Hear this! Not you, nor I are the judge who decide who is right or wrong. No, the Holy Spirit must guide us. That is why we must be sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit knows exactly what someone is doing wrong and where someone should be corrected.
If we are sensitive to the Holy Spirit and become aware of his guidance, we’ll know when we have to correct someone. Then we can approach someone with authority, because the Holy Spirit said so. Then we don’t have to say to that person: “I think you’re living wrong,” but we can say with authority: “The Spirit guided me to come and show you what you are doing wrong.”
When we ourselves decide to correct someone, it will most probably be based on condemnation. This may cause the person to go into defence mode and deny everything. But when you’re guided by the Spirit, you will not judge or condemn. In a way, you will realise that you could also have turned down the wrong track, but were saved through grace only and so you can’t point a finger. Then you come from a basis of gratitude, wanting to pass the grace that you’ve received to the person who had taken a few wrong turns.
And be compassionate, said Paul. Don’t approach someone like a policeman would do. See the person as Jesus would see him or her. Do you remember the time that Jesus sat at the well with the woman who had slept with a couple of men? He did not judge her. He did not even make her feel bad. He helped her with compassion to recognise her wrong deeds and to go and make them right.
God wants to use us in the same way. Many of our friends, family and even colleagues have lost the way a bit. God wants to use you to work in their lives. May you be available. May you be sensitive to the guidance of the Spirit and help others with compassion and love to return to God’s way.
Do you hear the Holy Spirit?
Whom did the Lord identify for you to speak to?
How should you do it?
Lord, thank you for friends. Thank you for the privilege that I may work in their lives. Make me sensitive to help others and to show them the way. And when I need correction, please help me take it like a man. Amen