How NOT To Approach A Sinner
"Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted." Galatians 6:1 A spirit of gentleness goes a long way, but a hateful reproach will always fail. Think of it. What effect has a railing accusation against you ever had? Did it bring you under conviction? No, it most likely brought you to hatred, anger, and self-defense. The pointed finger and the harsh tongue will never bring someone to repentance. Look at Jesus, look at the compassion he had with sinners. The only time he raised his voice was when accosted by the religionists, the pharisees, and to them he had very, VERY harsh words. He knew there was no way to reach them because they stood proud. They were beyond reasoning with. Pride is beyond reasoning with. Even the miracles he did were not sufficient to show them the truth, their hearts were hard, their hearts were set. But a sinner stuck in his sin needs mercy, unless he is standing proud in his sin - and in such a case there is no way to reach him, that can only be brought about through prayer for his repentance, words won't have any effect on him/her at this point. But to the one who is not standing proud but is just powerless in his sin, one who is "overtaken" by it, this one can be reached. But he cannot be reached by harshness. Harshness never, ever will reach a sinner's heart. "And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh." Jude 1:23 Concerning the ones who can only be saved with fear, even be very careful with these because the WAY you make them deal with their sin will determine whether you can reach their heart or not. When you're in a situation where only fear can save a person, even then let your words be strong, but not harsh. In a gentle voice, not a raised voice. Two people can say the same thing to a person, each in a different tone, and the results will be different accordingly. I was on a bus one day and happened to sit opposite a man with a Bible in his hand who was speaking to another man who had obviously been drinking. The man with the Bible was speaking harshly to the inebriated one and the inebriated man yelled back and venomously resisted every word spoken to him. I watched in silence for quite some time, until the man with the Bible got off the bus. I waited on the Lord concerning whether he would have me speak and received a clear sign that yes, I was to take over where the previous one left off. As I began to speak, the inebriated man started expressing his anger over what the first man had said to him, how could he stand in such judgment of him he complained, and on and on he went in deep bitterness. I let him talk and waited on the Lord. Then I began to speak and was amazed at the message the Lord gave me for him. It was the very same message the Bible thumper gave - but in a different tone. I began by saying "all that man said is true, but..." and then I spoke to the man the very same message except in all gentleness and mercy and love - and I won that man that day. What a lesson that was to me, I'll remember it for the rest of my life. "A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness." Proverbs 15:1-2 Be very careful how you speak to an unsaved person. Your manner will speak louder to them than your words.