When a close friend steps off the straight-and-narrow—what do you do?
Hopefully, someone will come along and help, right? But are we supposed to get involved personally? And most importantly, what are our responsibilities when a friend unexpectedly succumbs to a lifestyle of sin?
The answer may not be easy, but it’s clear in scripture.
According to Luke 17:3-4, Jesus says;
“Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”
No doubt, there are times that this may be uncomfortable, especially if it involves someone we care for deeply. But these are the Lord’s directions for restoring a fellow Christian who has taken a wrong turn and is on a path of destruction.
This is an important … an essential aspect of our Christian walk. It is no mistake that Christ tells us to pay attention to ourselves. It’s not an outside agency’s responsibility to rebuke sin in one of our members—it’s ours. Who can do it more effectively than an individual saved by the blood of Christ, coming in love to restore a dear friend?
It’s the definition of tough love—to put aside our own comfort and do the right thing. It’s so important, the refusal to repent is addressed in 1 Timothy 5:20;
As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.
None of us want to be called out in front of fellow Christians. Graciously, the Lord made that step unnecessary when repentance is the result of rebuke. But in the event that there is no repentance, the consequence is shame so that the rest may stand in fear.
Be encouraged—in the midst of a potentially agonizing confrontation, restoration is the goal, and obedience is the key. If we are truly following The Lord’s instructions, we are in the center of his will.