“If you have understanding, hear this; listen to the sound of my words.”
Elihu was a young man considering the discussion between Job and his three friends. He listened meticulously to the arguments, and seemed to accurately sum up the problem. Job, while not the man his friends were painting him to be, was guilty of charging God with iniquity. Elihu points out, God is not guilty of unrighteousness for the way He treats man. God’s goal is to awaken men to their need of a Savior. If a temporal affliction will awaken us to our eternal needs, God is certainly justified in His actions. Much of what Elihu shares is both Biblical and true, the problem is, it lacks any semblance of compassion.
Ephesians 4:15 “. . .but, speaking the truth in love. . . ”
Colossians 4:6 “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”
It is common to be judgmental over another’s failures, then to elevate ourselves above them. When this happens, we tend to lose compassion. This is particularly true when someone struggles with a sin that doesn’t trouble us, or which we have had victory over. Looking down on others causes us to be unsympathetic. The first words a wounded soldier hears should not be an accounting of what he did wrong, but rather, you are there to help him up. Once his wounds are attended to, we can instruct him on the way to avoid getting shot again. Paul gives us direction on how to minister to those who are struggling,
Galatians 6:1 “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.”
Step one: be spiritual. If we are going to offer any aid to others, we must be sure we are abiding in Christ. In Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, the best thing Christian did for his family was to go hard after the Lord.
Step two: we need to recognize the need in others. This requires that we keep our eyes open, come along side the wounded Christian, and help get him back on track.
Step three: we need to be compassionate. Paul uses the word gentle. We need to be gentle with things that are fragile. When Christians have stumbled, they are delicate. It is possible they may return to effectively walking with the Lord. We want to do all we can to help them get up, and keep on going.
Step four: consider yourself. There are some areas of sin to which we are personally prone. We cannot allow ourselves to be drawn down that path. If going after another will put you in a situation which guarantees personal failure, you need to protect yourself. Perhaps a good solution is to follow the pattern of Jesus, who sent His disciples out in pairs. Before going after the fallen, grab a Christian friend, pray, and head out in gentleness.