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Today I heard it. In conversation with another friend. We were talking about challenging relationships–some marital, some other. And we were discussing how to “speak up” and speak into the life of another when we notice something in their life that seems to be wrong, unhealthy, even sinful.

Because Scripture calls us to “admonish one another” (Romans 15:14), “speak truth . . . to one another” (Ephesians 4:25), “teaching and admonishing one another” (Colossians 3:16), and “stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24), it is easy to begin to think that my role in the life of another is to help him or her see where he or she is falling short, not measuring up, living in sin. “In love,” I want to speak into another’s life to aid the other to see his or her shortcomings and sin.

Leveraging Jesus’ words, I embrace the role of the one who shows a brother his fault, pointing out his sin (Matthew 18:15). And because Jesus calls us to do this, there must be a time and place and way that we can do that very thing–speaking up and speaking into the life of another to awaken the other to sin or short-comings.

But then there comes that moment of honest self-reflection. (A little too infrequent, perhaps, but with the Spirit’s help it does happen!) Why do I feel the need to speak into the life of another? A pause. A moment of self-searching. An honest assessment. And it becomes clear.

Often I want to speak into the life of another because what he or she is doing tweaks me. I’m personally put out or inconvenienced or hurt by what the other said or did (or didn’t say or didn’t do). So my motive in speaking up is really to make my life a bit better, to help the other treat me the way I want to be treated, to help them see what they are not seeing so that I am less uncomfortable, less bothers, less offended.

And it is right there that another passage of Scripture comes rushing home to my heart.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;  do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus . . .  (Philippians 2:3-5)

What does this mean? What is the implication? Although there is so much in this passage, there is one thing that specifically speaks to this idea of speaking up and speaking into the life of another.

“Do nothing from selfishness.” That’s pretty clear. Never. Don’t do anything because, primarily, it is to your benefit. That prods me to honesty about that desire to set someone else straight.

Am I doing because the Spirit has given me a real love for the other and because my desire really is for the good of that other . . . or is my desire to speak into the life of another stirred by my desire to make my own life easier, better, neater?

Simple question . . . but a big issue.


One Comment

  1. Seems like sometimes it is difficult to untangle the motives of my heart. Sometimes I’m not sure if I have just convinced myself that my motives are unselfish (having a “convinced conscience” does not seem to be the same as having a “clear conscience” )
    Also I’m wondering does Phil2:3-5 hint that the confronting might be more for times when we are looking out for someone else that has been wronged , or also when the offend-er is hindering the work of Christ in others?
    Whatever the case–Always without selfishness, Always with humility, Always considering others. . .
    Thanks for the post you have me thinking.

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