Entering into the Lives of Others by J R Miller
All the passages below are taken from J R Miller, “Intimate Letters on Personal Problems.”
I have been trying for a good while to teach my people, however, that all they can do for their friends, even their closest and dearest friends, is to keep them bound by prayer fast around the feet of God with chains of gold. Sometimes we can speak to our friends who are not doing quite right and by loving exhortation help them out of their danger — but very often such efforts only do harm and not good. I think even many mothers do a good deal too much talking to their children in the way of reproof or correction.
Take a case in point. There is a young man in whom I am very deeply interested, whose life I have been watching very closely for several years. He is married and has a little family. Three or four months ago, his wife came to me and told me in perfect confidence of his yielding to certain temptations, and asked me to talk with him. I told her very frankly that we would have to be exceedingly careful if we were to help him and save him. I promised her to do all I could but begged her not to say much herself — but to pray a great deal, assuring her that I would pray too, and if the opportunity came, would speak to him. The opportunity has not come yet, and perhaps it may never come. But I have been praying a great deal and his wife has been praying too — and we have prayed together several times for him. Last Sunday the wife slipped a note in my hand as she went out of the church door, telling me that she believed the danger was all past. The comfort is that God has heard the prayers — and touched the man's heart. I have sought meanwhile to interest him in certain lines of church work. I have also cautiously asked some of the men to interest themselves in him — but I have not said a word to him.
I merely refer to this incident to tell you that I believe, after a good many years of experimenting in the Master's work, that we can do most for people in their times of danger, indirectly and by prayer. I do not know what the particular danger is in your sister's case — but God knows, and you can talk to him very frankly, telling him your perplexity, and asking him to do the thing that is best.
Individuality is most sacred. We cannot touch another person's life without the other person's consent. We cannot force even our love upon people, nor compel them to do what is right. All we can do, all that even a parent can do for a child — is to use our influence, and let God do the rest. The moment we try to use any compulsion or to urge a person in any way but through the conscience and heart — we are violating the sanctity of personality and also endangering the life.
Did you ever try to open a rose a day or two before its natural time for opening? If you did, you know that it would have been better if you had waited a day or two and let the rose open in its own way, under the influence of the sun and the dew.