Now at the end of seven days the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, I have appointed you as a watchman for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You will certainly die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way so that he may live, that wicked person shall die for wrongdoing, but his blood I will require from your hand. However if you have warned the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die for wrongdoing, but you have saved yourself. – Ezekiel 3:16-19
Ezekiel, as an ancient prophet of God, was warned about keeping silent and refusing to proclaim God’s rebuke when His Creator had commanded him to do so. The penalty for his disobedience would be severe. God “mouthpiece” must speak His truth no matter the personal cost (run, Jonah, run). Yet, as those who claim to follow Christ, are we exempt from this same responsibility?
There are many ways to confront dangerous, sinful behavior in the life of a brother or sister in Christ, but we do not have the luxury of remaining silent when another member of Christ’s body is moving away from obedience in their walk with the Savior. Yes, I am aware of the admonition concerning “judgment” of others, but the answer is to remove the logs in our own eyes so that we can help our “family” with the specks in theirs.
While we may not want to hurt someone or offend, silence will result in destruction or even greater heartbreak, not to mention, dishonor of God. Every believer (not just those in leadership) is constrained to deliver God’s Word, even when it is difficult or painful. Woe to the man or woman of God who abdicates this responsibility simply for the sake of remaining liked or popular.
We are one in Christ; let us be friends with one another; but let us never be friends with one another’s error. If I am wrong, rebuke me sternly; I can bear it, and bear it cheerfully; and if you are wrong, expect the like measure from me, and neither peace nor parley with your mistakes. – Charles Spurgeon