Although we share core values and convictions, my husband and I were created with different personalities. He’s more compassionate and easy-going, while I tend to be more outspoken and critical. Sometimes I get tunnel vision and need his perspective to channel in my focus to the core truth. I have blind sides. We all do. Just as a healthy marriage is made up of two people who balance and challenge one another to a better version of themselves, so do we in our Christian community use exhortation and rebuking to help keep us all in line behind Scripture. The Word of God is our Lead, but when someone lets go of the rope, we need to encourage them back toward the connection to truth.
My children are a long way off from driving age–thank goodness–but when the time comes, we’ll teach them the rules of the road and how to maneuver a car safely. If our child responds with, “Well, that doesn’t sound ideal. What if I want to drive on the sidewalk or go through red lights? You can’t judge me for wanting to drive my own way.” We’d laugh; child, you are being ridiculous. But, how many of us use the the same feeble logic when it comes to our Christian journey? We don’t want anyone reminding us of God’s principles because we’ve already decided what we want to do and why. His guidelines are in place to protect us and bring Him glory.
Those who claim to follow Christ should humbly submit themselves to the Body of Christ, recognizing that we need one another for correcting, encouraging, teaching, and exhorting (2 Timothy 3:16). Iron cannot sharpen itself, and neither can we (Prov. 27:17).
Although Scripture tells us not to judge one another, we are taught to hold one another accountable for our words and actions. There’s a difference between being judgmental and making a judgment call. If someone falls astray, the loving thing is to encourage them back into the light. Reach a hand down and help them back up.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
These verses make some people uncomfortable, for many of us have had people overstep boundaries in getting too authoritative or condemning in gray areas of our lives. But, when a brother or sister in Christ comes to us in love and encourages us to turn back to the path of righteousness, we shouldn’t hold up a prideful hand and dismiss them. Take their words to the Lord and ask Him to convict you and illuminate any areas you might be walking in deception. Seek Scripture. What does Jesus have to say about the matter?
Our progress as believers and our deepening commitment to the Lord comes through humility and obedience. We need others to help us along the way.