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. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2
Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is the rebuke of a wise judge to a listening ear. Proverbs 25:12
Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt. Leviticus 19:17
It doesn’t matter if someone shares 99 encouragements, it’s the one criticism that occupies our minds. There is something about the negativity that resonates deeply within us. When we are stuck in our insecurities, we resist love. This puts us on the defensive in any conversation where our weaknesses are exposed.
We long for approval and anything that doesn’t validate us is seen as disapproval or the lack of acceptance. This serves as a crushing blow to our relationships and why remembering our identity in Christ is so important. We are able to see that we are more than our mistakes, shortcomings, and blemishes.
Yet, our insecurities and inadequacies cannot be excuses for bad behavior. Tiptoeing around each other’s eggshells will never lead to growth and transformation. If we remain silent, we play a part in causing others to remain stuck. Our silence speaks volumes about our love for one another. If we are unwilling to speak into each other’s lives, it, in essence, says that the other person isn’t worth our effort.
When we truly love another person, we are looking out for their good. We are searching for ways that God is working in their life. This goes much deeper than criticizing a behavior. Criticism focuses on cleaning up the current issue at hand so that we can get back to business as usual. On the other hand, a rebuke is more concerned with the person’s heart, not only the behavior.
Before this can take place, a common purpose must be found. This comes only through the act of listening. When we listen first, we enable God’s love to fill our hearts and for our mouths to become fountains of life. When we pause and listen, we allow the other person to be heard. This also gives an opportunity to hear God speaking to us.
We must work toward understanding. Without it, communication is impossible. If the person on the other side of the table doesn’t think you understand, your words will fall on deaf ears. They will feel judged and condemned causing their emotions to dictate their behavior. Some will shut down while others may lash out. Emotions will begin to dictate the conversation or lack there of.
Judgment and condemnation need to be taken off the table for our emotions to cool down. In the midst of these crucial conversations, we have to understand that we are in it together. We must trust that the other person has our best interest at heart. The goal of correction is restoration. First and foremost, restoration is relational.
When we see the other person in the way God sees them, it changes our approach to the conversation. We desire what’s best for that individual. They matter to Him so they matter to us. We want nothing more than to see God working in their lives and for their full formation to be unhindered. This is the common purpose that should define all of our relationships. It is only when we define the common purpose that we can address the issues at hand and start dealing with the eggshells all around us.
- Think about the person you are walking on eggshells around. What would it look like for you to want the best for them? How would having this mindset alter your approach to them?
God, let me see people through Your eyes. Allow this grace-filled vision to direct and guide my conversations. Remind me to listen first and seek to understand. May the words I speak be grounded in love to the point where they gently nudge people in Your direction – where love, mercy and true change is found. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.