Is it okay to answer back when I’m being criticized, mocked, derided for my faith, particularly by those who are professing the same faith?
The answer is a resounding YES! It is usually not okay NOT to answer back. Galatians 6:1 says when we see our brethren particularly, in sin, we must attempt restoration. We must go to the person(s), in the spirit of meekness and, remembering that we are not above being tempted ourselves, try to bring the sister(s) or brother(s) who is entangled back to faithfulness. The key is the spirit—a spirit of meekness. That means I always recognize my own vulnerability to the tempter and my utter dependency on the Lord for the hope I sustain.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you, too, be tempted.
So what are some adverbs from scripture that I should consider prior to having “restoration discussions”? I think Romans 12 is a great place to go when examining my talking points. The main things I need to remember are that (1) any talk about sin in the life of another should be aimed at restoration, not self exoneration, and (2) both parties are in the exact same condition without the blood of Jesus, and (3) though my sin may be very different from the sin I am addressing, the problem of my own sin required the same blood as the sin of the one to whom I go.
Here are some adverbs that should characterize my discussing any sin with anyone:
- I should go seriously, soberly (vs. 3).
- I should go kindly (vs. 10).
- I should go lovingly (vs. 10).
- I should go prayerfully (vs. 12).
- I should go honestly (vs. 17).
- I should go peaceably (vs. 18).
- I should go with goodness (vs. 21).
Switching back to Galatians 6, the next phrase is that we should bear one another’s burdens, so fulfilling the law of Christ. So, in the going, there must be in my heart the willingness to expend effort, time, talents and finances, if necessary, to help the person I’m addressing with real-life needs. That kind of “bearing” is the test of my sincerity in seeking restoration.
But attempts at restoration, when needed, are integral requirements in burden-bearing. We don’t simply have permission to address; we have responsibility. It’s part of being a family.