“My beloved friends, if you see a believer who is overtaken with a fault, the one who is in the Spirit should seek to restore him in the Spirit of gentleness. But keep watch over your own heart so that you won’t be tempted to exalt yourself over him. Love empowers us to fulfill the law of the Anointed One as we carry each other’s troubles. If you think you are somebody too important to stoop down to help another (when really you are not), you are living in deception.”
Galatians 6:1-3 (TPT)
The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7
Some years ago, I witnessed one of my children being unkind to a few other kids. It happened when their moms were around, so I felt embarrassed and uncomfortable. I knew I needed to address the situation and teach my kiddo how to put oneself in the shoes of others—but first, I needed to assess my heart and tend to the choppy inner waters stirred by my own embarrassment. A couple of days later, after spending time with God talking about why my heart was stirred, He led me back to peace. Then, my kiddo and I had a loving, beautiful conversation. My sweet child, who has a heart for God and a kind, welcoming spirit, without prompting from me, recognized that an apology to the other kids was in order and carried it out.
A week later, the same type of unkindness happened again, and I experienced the same conviction about a conversation. This time, even though my heart was stirred, I didn’t wait. I lit into my child right away—sharing my disappointment, frustration, and embarrassment. As you can guess, my words were met with resistance and defensiveness—all because I chose to address someone else’s sin with a stirred-up heart.
As Christ followers, God invites us to share His loving nature with others to draw them near to Him—and lovingly addressing others’ mistakes is part of that. But, often, the moment we are experiencing that inner slurry of conviction to speak is the worst time to actually do it! Verses 1-3 remind us that no matter how convicted we are, before we open our mouths to point out someone else’s mistake, we need to check our hearts.
Why does our heart matter in someone else’s sin? Scripture tells us that the person we are speaking to will experience what is in our heart. (Matt 12:34; Luke 6:45) If we are operating outside of the heart-peace that God offers us, we risk our friend experiencing our emotions, judgments, or desire for control instead of our love. Another way to look at it is before we address the speck in their eye, we need to address the log in our own (Matt 7:3). My kiddo felt loved the first time I brought up the situation, but the second time, not so much…
Speaking from a peace-filled heart when loving someone through their faults is not easy—but it is a beautiful way to draw them closer to our good, loving God.
The next time you feel convicted to address someone else’s mistake, take some time to assess your heart. What emotions have come up in you? Do you feel loving toward the person, or do you need to take your stirred waters to your Father for help restoring your heart-peace first?