When is it right to speak up and tell someone they are wrong? When is it right to speak, knowing that you may even cause offense? Great wisdom is needed here, but two principles to start: First, clearly if God has spoken, we must also. Grace and love should come before and after, but refusing to tell the truth is not love but a subtle form of hatred. If you see your brother in sin, it is a great sin to refuse to say something. If your roommate is looking at pornography, it is not love to ignore it. If your roommate dresses immodestly, it’s not kindness to overlook it. If it’s sin, speak up. If you’re not sure if it’s sin, but it looks pretty suspicious, ask them. If they cannot see a brother or sister truly concerned for them, then they have other problems, even if they weren’t actually in the sin you asked them about. Secondly, in many grey areas, we are tempted to close our mouths when we should probably say something. And here it is challenging: We remember that the pastor has told us not to over-share, and that there is a difference between principles and methods, and we don’t want to offend someone with a contrary opinion. But wisdom is found in a multitude of counselors. These counselors may come in the form of the living and the dead, but they are fathers and mothers that God calls us to honor. So maybe it’s not porn, but sheesh that’s a lot of skin man, turn that thing off, don’t you have any honor? Or maybe it’s gently pointing out that your friends children are a consistent bad influence on your children when they come over to the house. Have you noticed that your son always cries when he loses? Have you noticed that your daughter is especially friendly with all the boys? And some people won’t take these things well, but your job is to love them. Your job is to seek their blessing, their benefit. And trust God to work out the ruffles. This is what living in community is all about. When we take membership vows and baptismal vows, we are entrusting ourselves to one another. We are swearing to one another that we will look out for each other. Of course, check your motives, don’t be picky, don’t be cranky, and remember that with the same measure you judge, you will be judged. But that’s not a straight-jacket; you are called to love.
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:1-2)