Is there somebody in your family or in your church who is doing something you think they ought not to be doing?
Of course there is!
Are there people around you with defects of character that you can’t help but notice?
Do you find it natural to try and correct the defects you see in others?
If not, you need to read no further.
Okay, I see you’re still reading, so the following quotation is for you:
“Men make the work of advancing the truth tenfold harder than it really is by seeking to take God’s work out of His hands into their own finite hands. They think that they must be constantly inventing something to make men do things which they suppose these persons ought to do. The time thus spent is all the while making the work more complicated, for the great chief Worker is left out of the question in the care of His own heritage. Men undertake the job of tinkering up the defective characters of others, and only succeed in making the defects much worse. They would better leave God to do His own work, for He does not regard them as capable of reshaping character” (Ellen White, Testimonies to Ministers, p. 191).
If that smarts your conscience like it does mine, you won’t want to read it again. But you really should, and this time slower.
Words couldn’t be truer.
Stop and think about it: have your efforts to fix people by “tinkering up” their defective characters—by pointing out their defects, by subtly or not so subtly imposing guilt, by applying manipulative pressures—ever, even once, brought about positive changes in your “target”? I’d venture a guess that you can’t cite a single success story.
Nor can I.
Because the method itself is inherently flawed. People do not turn from their defects and sins when pressured to do so. In fact, the natural tendency of the human heart will be to resist or rebel when tinkering pressures are applied. God has a different method: He reveals His forgiving grace, and it transforms from the inside out.
So leave God to His work. Stop tinkering with people’s characters. Allow the Savior to do the saving. He’s good at it, and He’s the only one who knows how to approach each one with the best possible effect.