How we say something is as important as what we say. Truth without love can be brutal and misinterpreted.
4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself. 5 Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes. Pr 26:4-5
In an apparent contradiction, Solomon tells us to use discretion when dealing with one who is acting foolishly. Some are ready to listen; some are not. Regarding the latter, Jesus said this:
6 “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces. Mt 7:6
With these people, we must stand back and watch until they are at a place where they are ready to listen. When it’s a loved one, waiting is really hard and can be perceived by others as callous. We must stick to our guns and allow God to protect them even as their lives are destroyed by sin. We have precedent for this kind of prayer:
5 hand this man over to Satan [allow their sin to be their undoing], so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord. 1Co 5:5
How should we handle the ones who are now asking for help? We are to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) and bring them back to the truth (James 5:19). I love the next verse:
20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. Jas 5:20
Let’s be discerning as we share God’s love and truth to all around us as we remember that we, too, have been where they are–and may be in other areas.