I am not a fan of going to the doctor. Especially when it comes to a preventative check-up. Like many of us I don’t enjoy the questions and examination process. However, I do know that a regular preventative check-up can go a long way in keeping one healthy.
When it comes to our spiritual health many of us have the same attitude. We just want to be left alone. We don’t like the idea of other people meddling in our personal lives, especially when it comes to our relationship with God. We would rather people be content with a surface answer of “fine” when asked, “how are you doing?”
And yet, Scripture clearly calls for us to get into the business of others within the context of the church. No, it is not always pleasant, but we must trust that these commands are for our good. In Hebrews 12:14,15 we are called to strive for peace and holiness together, make sure others grow in grace, and be on guard against any idea or doctrine that will hinder or hurt a person’s spiritual growth.
As we commit to this sanctified meddling in the lives of others it is important to keep in mind a few guiding principles.
Proper Balance– In his book Building a Discipling Cultureauthor Mike Breen encourages us to have a proper balance in our relationships with others. He reminds us that we need to challenge people in proportion to our relationship and connection with them. Too much challenge and not enough relationship breeds a stressful environment. Conversely, too much relationship with no challenge creates a cozy situation devoid of any real growth. Therefore, we must seek a balance between inviting others in to a deeper relationship and challenging them in their faith.
Precept or Preference– We must also be careful to examine the challenges we offer others. Are they a precept or a preference? Are they built upon the timeless and authoritative truth of God’s Word or simply our own personal preference? Challenging and admonishing others based upon our preferences can be a very dangerous and harmful thing.
Gentleness– When we offer challenge or encouragement into the life of another we must always be mindful of how we offer our thoughts. Paul repeatedly reminds us to do so in a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:25; Ephesians 4:2; Titus 3:2). How we say something is almost, if not just as important as what we say. Therefore, we must approach others with a humble, gentle, and loving attitude.
In 1 Thessalonians Paul tells us to, “admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” As we do this we can achieve a true biblical community that is built upon love and trust. This will also serve as an incredible testimony to the authenticity of our faith and of the truth of Jesus (John 17:23).