I personally believe that there are not enough people who want to ‘Do the Dishes’, in other words, most people don’t want to do the hard work of telling someone a truth in the right manner, when it might be taken offensively. However, the Bible tells us to do everything with wisdom. So the question in my mind comes down to: “Am I just being bull-headed and mean by trying to save the world (showing them their mess), but not willing to clean up any messes myself?”
There are several things that come to mind about this, and I’ll try to briefly approach each item so you can understand the process Caleb and I go through before we share a hard truth with someone.
First, we have to understand that God desires us to share truth, even when people don’t want to hear it. (Command: Eph. 5:11 Example: Acts 3:19, and Judges 19-20)
Second, we have to realize that we cannot hold ourselves responsible for cleaning up someone else’s mess. If we can help them, and it is good for both of us to help them, then that is fine. However, because we shared the truth in love does not mean that we MUST help them clean it up. Much like when Nethaneel spills his bowl of cereal. I can say, “Nethaneel, you should have not been goofing off. Now you’ve spilt your milk. That was foolish of you, and now you need to clean up the mess.” I don’t have to help him (and usually won’t). The same is true for adults. 🙂
Then it’s time for me to begin cleaning up some dirty dishes:
I believe that our commitment to each person needs to match the level of our sharing truth. What does that mean in real life? Example: Before I share truth with someone, I need to ask myself, “Do I truly love that person? Do I think well of them, or are my thoughts full of aggravation and irritation? Do I pray for them?” I know when true love is not in my heart by what I think of someone. If I can only think evil thoughts of them, then I’m not full of love and commitment, but rather full of anger and madness. No words (or actions) toward them will be beneficial in an angry state. If I don’t love them, I need to begin praying for them each day, and choosing to think well of them.
We then focus on the following verses and apply them to our situation:
Matthew 7:1-2 “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” The point is not that we shouldn’t judge, but rather that we better be willing to measure up to the standard we are holding! If someone gossips to me, and I tell them, “It is wrong to gossip. You need to stop.” Then I better be willing to stop gossiping myself!
Matthew 7:3-4 “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam [is] in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” This passage does not command us to leave our brother’s eye alone, in fact it does the opposite! It tells us that we need to remove the mote from our brothers eye IF we have first removed the beam from our own eye. So, to bring back the gossip example: If someone gossips to me, before I say anything to them at all, I need to examine my own heart. Have I been gossiping? If so, I need to correct that problem first BEFORE talking to the other gossiper. After I have repented (truly stopped!), then I have the command to show my brother the mote in his eye, and if necessary, help him remove it.
So, in recap, the steps I personally take before sharing something that might offend someone else:
1. Realize I have a command to share the truth
2. Be willing to help this person IF it is good for them and me
Now it’s time to start to doing the dishes:
3. Ask myself, “What do I really think of this person? Is it full of love or hatred?”
4. Examine my life: Do I perform the actions I am condemning?
5. If I answered ‘yes’ to #4, then repent for my actions, take steps necessary to resolve the situations I’ve caused before proceeding.
6. Speak to my brother about the issue.
Granted, we do need to take into account the fact that we shouldn’t throw pearls before swine. In other words, if I have followed all of the above steps, and have peace with God and man, then someone takes my words of reproof and tramples them to the ground, I give up. They are then behaving like a fool, and I need to retain wisdom for those who are wise. But I firmly believe that we need to approach people at least once, and give them the opportunity to be wise. 🙂
In finality, I need to pray often, asking the LORD to give me a soft heart for every issue, and repeat steps 1-5 very often so I can truly see my own heart. After all, the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Who can know it? Only our LORD, my friend! (Jer 17:9-10) I’m so thankful that He is willing to show me my heart if I am pursuing Him.
Won’t you join me in asking our LORD to let you see your own heart clearly?