Here before you stands a child of God. That alone gives you reason to take care how you proceed. You are confronted by a member of the Royal House of David: do not be misled by their appearance. It matters little that they are hesitant, fearful even: that they wear an anxious look, and are eager to please. It matters greatly that they have a lineage stretching back unbroken from here to Abraham; that they are the inheritors of a most solemn covenant between God and Man. That their names are known to God personally. That all of heaven was mortgaged for their purchase: and that Christ considered such a price well worth the joy they are to him.
The fact that they are in need of God, does not lessen their importance to God, nor the respect with which someone of such value should be treated. Should they weep at their own wrongdoing, tread gently: such contrition is worth kingdoms to their Father. Should they appear confused and full of doubt, do not rush to mistake honest perplexity, for recalcitrance: the desire to be sure, for stubbornness. Remember, they have the right to be convinced. And should you discover the recurring signs of yet-unconquered weakness, go patiently. Remember that the grace which has kept you from their particular failing, has at times been sorely tried to keep you from others. And consider the more that He who wavered not at all, has most patience of all.
Take care that you do not bruise the first green shoots of faith. Or that in reaching for the thing you see most clearly needs to be done, you fail to appreciate the yet unripened fruit of a surrendered heart, a willing mind, an eager spirit, a desire to learn and a heart made new in Christ.
And if they be in good standing with their God, then you should shudder to reproach those who God holds to be friend and family. Or to exaggerate their faults until a justifiable concern becomes a hostile accusation. Be not deceived, He who made both their heart and yours, can and will discern the difference.
Do not use rebuke, when admonition will serve. Nor admonition, when counsel will do. Nor even counsel, when all that is required is the spirit of encouragement.
And if all these things lead you to throw up your hands and say ‘God, I cannot do it! Between the fear of insulting them and of offending you, I no longer know what to say. If I charge them unjustly, I am answerable to you. If I fail to deal faithfully with them, I am answerable to you. If I deal with them truthfully, but without gentleness and respect, I am still answerable to you. I am not fit for such a ministry where there is so little room for human error! Then give glory to God. You have rightly understood the matter and now, you may proceed.