I’m sure that most of us know what it feels like to watch a close friend or loved one make choices that appear to hinder rather than help their relationship with God. In those situations, it is so very tempting for us Christians to play the Holy Spirit. And we are so very, very bad at it. We think we can see clearly what is going on in the other person’s heart, and we want desperately to shake them and tell them the error of their ways. Unfortunately, less is more when it comes to our unsolicited instruction and advice.
The first and best way for us to move forward in addressing such situations is, in fact, on our knees. Rather than confronting others with our concerns, simply lift them up to God, asking Him to work on their hearts according to His perfect will and wisdom. The biggest way we might benefit wayward souls is by praying for them. Our own words, opinions, and advice—no matter how well meaning—may actually push them farther away from God sometimes.
While God never forces people to change, somehow prayer enables Him to work in ways that He otherwise would not. The Bible also contains promises we can claim when praying for people who may be walking apart from the Lord. Look up the following verses, and remind God of His Word: 1 John 5:16, Jeremiah 24:7, Jeremiah 3:22, Isaiah 42:7, and Isaiah 42:16.
On Our Knees
During this time of intercession on our knees, we must also ask God to reveal to us any ways that we might be a part of the problem. We must humbly search our hearts and be willing to accept responsibility for anything we may have contributed to the situation. After all, Jesus reminds us not to go after the speck in our brother’s eye when there is a huge plank in our own eye. (Luke 6)
Besides keeping our mouths shut, interceding for others, and allowing God to set a mirror before us, we should live the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This is possible when we allow the Holy Spirit to live in us and through us, and it is far superior to attempting to be the Holy Spirit to others.
God may at times use the words of a loving Christian to reach and save someone who needs help, but these words should be totally and completely prompted by the Holy Spirit. They must not be prompted by our own pride, or anger, or fear. They must never smack of “I told you so” or self-superiority. They must ONLY be spoken in love and perhaps with tears in our eyes because we care more about God and about them than about ourselves (Ephesians 4:15, 29-32).