Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:1-5
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Galatians 6:1
Do you have anyone in your life who is not doing what they should be doing? Or do you look at anyone and think, “If they would just _________, their life would be so much better!!” Maybe it is not someone close to you; maybe it is a public figure with no relation to you whatsoever. How easy it is to solve the problems of others….
What might be said of me? What areas of my own life need some adjusting? What planks in my own eyes need to be removed before going to restore a brother or sister?
Before I consider how I might restore another, it is necessary to spend some time removing the planks from my own eye. This gives me perspective. It helps me to remember that not one of us is without sin, perfect in all our ways. It helps me to approach others in gentleness and humility, knowing that we are all the same. My planks might be different than yours, but we all have them. So, my heart is then fixed on the Lord and His righteousness, and my desire is tuned for others to see Him and not me.
Hearts can be very tender. Very often we have no idea what battles a person might be fighting. As you approach someone to help in some area, you might discover many things you did not anticipate. For one thing, people may not be ready or willing to receive help. This can seem shocking if a person is obviously in dire straits. What should you do? Pray. Ask the Lord if you are the person to help. If you decide to move forward, offer your help in a very confidential, warm, and sensitive way, while continuing to seek the Lord in prayer. In any case, the person might refuse for many reasons. You should continue to pray and wait. You might reach out gently again later, but help cannot be forced. If this is a family member for whom you have some level of responsibility, your role is going to look much different. Again, prayer is so key. You might need some counsel if the situation is such that you cannot remain uninvolved.
If the person accepts help, you must pray through the entire process for His wisdom and guidance; for His heart and attitude, for His will and way, for His discernment to know how to provide help, and for the person’s willingness and readiness to receive it. Perhaps part of the preparation that the Lord is doing in that time is work in your own heart.
Love and Respect
You may have heard the saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” We might know exactly what to do to correct the problems a person is experiencing and thereby improve their life. But all of that knowledge is wasted if, in the process, we fail to communicate respect for them as a person. If I personally feel shamed, I will not want to receive help from you, nor will I feel your love, even if you are trying to help me; even if you are spending your time and energy and maybe even your resources to help me. We all want to be loved. And we all want to be known. However, being known is so risky because, deep down, we all realize our faults and we fear being judged and rejected.
So, our help must first gently communicate respect. We have to be vulnerable to demonstrate that we are not any better than the person we are trying to help. Those verses in Galatians warn us to watch out lest we ourselves fall into sin. This does not mean necessarily that we might fall into the same sin of the person we are helping, but rather the sin of pride- the sin of thinking we are better than they are. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that we are all the same; “one dumb decision away from blowing it,” as Buster reminds us.
After you have gone through all of these steps prayerfully, you can move forward and gently offer your help with humility and grace. Offer to pray together as a first step. If your help is not accepted at first, offer to meet on a regular basis for prayer. Trust must be established. A relationship must be built. Rely on the Lord in every way.
Remember that you are not God and that He is able to take care of the person apart from your help. Prayer is effective. Perhaps His call to pray is why you feel burdened for the person. Perhaps you are not the person God intends to provide the practical help. Pray for the one whom He will send. He is faithful and good, and His love endures forever. He can be trusted to make a way.