The Review and Herald
July 17, 1879
How to Win Back the Erring
If you are grieved because your neighbors or friends are doing wrong to their own hurt, if they are overtaken in fault, follow the Bible rule. “Tell him his fault between thee and him alone.” As you go to the one you suppose to be in error, see that you speak in a meek and lowly spirit; for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. The erring can in no other way be restored than in the spirit of meekness, and gentleness, and tender love. Be careful in your manner. Avoid anything in look or gesture, word or tone of voice, that savors of pride, or self-sufficiency. Guard yourself against a word or look that would exalt self, or present your goodness and righteousness in contrast with their failings. Beware of the most distant approach to disdain, overbearing, or contempt. With care avoid every appearance of anger; and though you use plainness of speech, yet let there be no reproach, no railing accusation, no token of warmth, but that of earnest love. Above all let there be no shadow of hate or ill-will, no bitterness, nor sourness of expression. Nothing but kindness and gentleness can flow from a heart of love. Yet all these precious fruits need not hinder your speaking in the most serious, solemn manner, as though angels were directing their eyes upon you, and you were acting in reference to the coming Judgment. Bear in mind that the success of reproof depends greatly upon the spirit in which it is given. Do not neglect earnest prayer that you may possess a lowly mind, and that angels of God may work upon the hearts you are trying to reach, before you, and so soften them by heavenly impressions, that your efforts may avail. If any good is accomplished, take no credit to yourself. God alone should be exalted. God alone hath done it all. RH July 17, 1879, par. 1
You may have excused yourself for speaking evil of your brother or sister or neighbor to others before going to them, and taking the steps God has absolutely commanded. Perhaps you say, “I did not speak to any one until I was so burdened that I could not refrain.” What burdened you? Was it a plain neglect of your own duty, a thus saith the Lord? You were under the guilt of sin because you did not go tell him his fault between thee and him alone. If you did not do this, if you disobeyed God, how should you be otherwise than burdened, unless your heart was hardened, while you were trampling the command of God under foot, and hating your brother or neighbor in your heart? And what way have you found to unburden yourself? God reproves you for a sin of omission, not telling your brother or sister their fault, and you excuse and comfort yourself under his censure by a sin of commission, by telling your brother's faults to another person! Is this the right way to purchase ease, by committing sin? RH July 17, 1879, par. 2
All your efforts to save the erring may be unavailing. They may repay you evil for good. They may be enraged rather than convinced. What if they hear to no good purpose, and pursue the evil course they have begun. This will frequently occur. Sometimes the mildest and tenderest reproof will have no good effect. In that case, the blessing you wanted another to receive by pursuing a course of righteousness, ceasing to do evil, and learning to do well, will return into your own bosom. If the erring persist in sin, treat them kindly and leave them with your Heavenly Father. You have delivered your soul. Their sin no longer rests upon you. You are not now partaker of their sins. But if they perish, their blood is upon their own heads. RH July 17, 1879, par. 3
E. G. White.