“Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16)
What do you do when someone levels a hard word at you? Well, hopefully they would deliver it more in keeping with some other type of description. “Leveling a hard word at someone” sounds like they’re throwing a rock. Before we begin to answer that question, turn it around. How would you deliver something God has put on your heart to say to someone who was out of line or out of order?
“Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” (James 5:20-21)
“And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8) Charity, love. Same thing.
Think about how God came to you. Were you even looking? Is your faith something that was handed down from your parents? Or were you adopted into God’s family having known Him as the only parent you’ve ever had? Something in between perhaps? What does the language look like when God begins to intimate something to your heart? Hopefully life doesn’t become a trainwreck in the process. I find that if God wants me to know something, in spite of crossed wires and mixed signals (it’s my reception, you understand), the effort is always persistent and sweet. Paul lines out some codes of conduct in dealing with those who didn’t accept Paul’s letter. Specifically his second letter to the Thessalonians (3:15): “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” Not sure if that’s the best of examples for daily life. I find that when things were rawer, as in, during the time of the writing of what we now have as and call “our Bible”, the lines seem to have been more distinct. The point is, God loves us enough to see to it we stay on the straight and narrow. And if He can’t reach you directly (That’s His preferred method of communication, by the way–through His Word and through His Spirit.), He’ll call someone else to stand up and represent. Don’t hate.
“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love Him, because He first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” (1 John 4:18-20)
“A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.” (Proverbs 18:19)
Whatever the word, you must be prepared, steeled, even for the worst of responses. But that’s not really your concern now is it? There have been things I’ve said and things I’ve witnessed friends say to friends, in which the friend speaking worried too much about the reception of the “offender” to which the “offender” wasn’t even offended. Does this make sense? All of this falls under the category (as each instance is all over the map) of obedience. Telling someone the bridge is out doesn’t take in to account the feelings of the person out of control.
And even if it doesn’t take, being an object lesson for those watching, while embarrassing, is a gift in itself:
“Thou makest us a byword among the heathen, a shaking of the head among the people. My confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me.” (Psalm 44:14-15)
See, it’s all the love of God. God loves you and me enough to tell us when we’re doing things wrong or believing lies or just a little (or a lot) confused. The condition of our heart (not our head) is what will bubble up to the surface when God plumbs those depths. Don’t be afraid of the words. Jesus cared so much about showing us the right way to go that He was willing to die to prove His point.