If God Asks Us to Speak, We Must Do So with Humility and Charity
September 14, 2017
Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
“You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.” (Ezekiel 33:7)
Being a prophet is not easy in any age. Ezekiel struggled with his sacred duty of warning the people of Israel about their wanderings away from God. Even now, in our overly-sensitive culture, we hesitate to comment on sinful behavior for fear of reprisal. We have taken “do not judge” too far, and now stand in danger of failing in our duty to protect each other from sin. We forget that God “will hold you responsible for his death.” To the level that I bear responsibility for my brother, my child, my friend, or my neighbor, I will be judged by God for my failure to warn them. I must try to help, but I must also be very careful about it.
We cannot make decisions for other people, but we can inform their decisions so that they can decide well. I must weigh my responsibility to instruct the ignorant (a Spiritual Work of Mercy) against the harm my words might cause to our relationship. I pray frequently for wisdom and counsel in speech before, during, and after a difficult conversation. I try to explain my concern for them first and gently offer the correction I feel is necessary, always as an invitation, not a command. Then, the most difficult part, I entrust that person to the Holy Spirit. I pray that God will make up for my human failings and guide that person to right judgement in their decisions. We cannot remain silent, but neither can we pretend to control another person. If God asks us to speak, we must do so with humility and charity.