We all want our friends to go to heaven. We want them to be sure of the joy of God’s salvation. We want them to live in a way that pleases God. Sometimes we know that they need to make some kind of change in order to realize those goals. Maybe you’re seeing something they have missed. How do we help them change?
The first thing that we should do is put ourselves in their place. If we believed as they do, then how would we want the truth to be presented to us? This is right along with the Golden Rule—Matthew 7:12, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” We would likely prefer to be engaged in a kind and respectful way rather than a harsh and demeaning way (Gal. 6:1). We would want the truth presented with compassionate care for our well-being rather than a haughty, condescending tone (Rom 12:16). We would want to be reasoned with rather than sharply rebuked (Acts 17:17; 1 Tim. 5:1-2).
We must never present the truth of Christ without the love of Christ. Our passion must never be devoid of compassion. Remember that sinners are not our enemies, but rather they are precious souls in need of Christ. Satan is the real enemy, but even the archangel Michael “did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, ’The Lord rebuke you!’” (Jude 9). If even the archangel felt the need to leave railing judgment up to the Lord, even dealing with something as evil as Satan, then perhaps we should be hesitant to offer railing judgement against our fellow man who is not pure evil. Instead, let us reason together with love and respect as we attempt to accurately discern God’s will for our lives.