There is this annoying little light on my coffee maker at the office. It is not the soft-hued blue of the LED clock or the radiant green of the “coffee ready” indicator, it is this out-of-place, off-white “warning” button under a one word message: “Clean.” I treat it much like the “Service-Engine” light on my car’s dashboard. I think to myself, “Well, the car still starts and runs… so what’s the big deal?” So, I ignore it and keep on driving. But, it won’t go away, this obnoxious reminder that something is just not right. And, sooner better than later, I will have to deal with it.
Many of God’s warnings in the Bible are similar to my coffee maker’s “Clean” button. Panic would not be a proper response because the sky is not necessarily falling (although, if my coffee pot quit working, there would be great sorrow). In life, there are little red flags that subconsciously wave in our brain, warning us of impending disaster. And, we are well aware of the fact that leaving undone what needs to be done can quickly move a mole-hill issue to the mountain of crisis. So, whereas a warning from God must not be ignored, how we apply His warnings might be the critical issue.
The Devil’s temptations (1 Corinthians 10:12-14) that invite us to believe a lie (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12) and fall from grace (Galatians 5:4) are not an overnight process. Getting dirty with the world is usually gradual, not a nose-dive into the mud-hole. As Brother J. D. Tant used to say, “Brethren, we are drifting.” However, seeing the ugly coming often creates application-anxiety and the critical question becomes: when do we, as an exercise in love, step in and say something?
Wisdom resides in choosing the appropriate time, tone and temperament to address the straying soul. It is normally not an occasion to panic and deliver a spiritual body slam. Likewise, we cannot afford to totally ignore a struggling saint, as if their problems will magically disappear. What we must do is lovingly, gently, reach out with help (even when it is uninvited). A timely intervention can reverse a collision course, redirect a soul and save it from disaster, covering a multitude of sins (James 5:19-20).
I know; I will have to clean my coffee pot eventually. And, because I love you more than coffee, please, allow me to push the “Clean” button.