Admonish The Sinner
Week 7 | Spiritual Work of Mercy
“If any one among you wanders from the truth and some one brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:20)
By Daniel Burke
The key is to recover what it means to be merciful in our communication of truth. Many loudly declare that the mere proclamation of truth is an act of mercy and love and thus sufficient. Does this perspective square with Scripture? Here are a few passages that we can use as a way to test our approach to communicating truth:
And we exhort you, brethren, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
Are we patient and self-sacrificing with those who need to hear the truth?
Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. (Acts 20:31)
Does our passion for God come through humble tears of love as we communicate truth, or are we cold, demanding, and dispassionate Pharisees?
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer every one. (Colossians 4:6)
Are we gracious and careful regarding how we prepare the meal of truth? Is our meal stark and made up only of sound nutrition, or does it mirror the banquet feast of God, which is both nutritious and so appealing that none would turn away to a lesser source?
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, forbearing, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:24–26)
Are we quick to argue and defend without the patience that reflects kindness? Are we gentle and hopeful, relying on the work of God that comes through the authentic and self-giving expression of love and truth?
Speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all men. (Titus 3:2)
Do we speak poorly of those who are deceived and in need of the light and work of redemption? Are we courteous and do we avoid a confrontational style that will easily lead to closed hearts and minds? Do we treat communication of truth as a boxing match, or as a sharing of love between friends?
He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. (Hebrews 5:2)
Do we recognize our own weakness and sin in humility as we work to help others, or do we place ourselves above others as the one who is right and superior? Are we ready to wash the feet of the wayward as Jesus did with Judas, or do we stand above God himself in our refusal of humble service?
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity. (James 3:17)
Are we peaceful, gentle, and open to discussion with others? Or are we hard and quick to shut down anything that we disagree with without hearing the heart of the other person? Are we constantly waiting to get to our retort, or do we care enough about others to listen carefully so that we can reach their hearts with the truths that would most likely set them free?
Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence. (1 Peter 3:15)
Are you prepared to gently and reverently reveal what God has done and is doing in your life? Are you deeply aware of your own need for a savior and do you thus recognize and long for the salvation of others? Have you prayed for the one you are seeking to help? Are you in a state of grace so that you are animated by God’s love, gentleness, meekness, and power as you speak?
If you build that bridge of love in the way you give yourself to others and the way you communicate truth, you will find profound and consistent success in leading hearts to God.
Excerpt taken from Chapter 11 of Beautiful Mercy. Get your free copy of the book (just pay shipping).
Are you a sinner? So am I. That is a good place to begin.
Look at the questions Dan Burke asks in the book excerpt above. Take the one that strikes you the most and pray with it. Ask God to help you grow in that area.
Merciful Father, show me what it means to be merciful, and guide me to reach out in love.