Ezekiel 3:17–2117“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 18If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 19But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. 20Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand. 21But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul.”
Ezekiel is a prophet commissioned by God to speak to people of Israel in the southern kingdom of Judah. These Israelites are being taken into captivity by the Babylonian Empire as judgment for idolatry and other aspects of sinfulness. As a prophet, he receives the way of truth from the Lord and communicates it as warnings. His task is serious, and he dare not take it lightly. Failure to fulfill the task of warning the disobedient and defiant comes with harsh consequences. Ezekiel is not responsible for how people respond to the warnings. Being faithful to the mission of communicating the warnings is that for which he must answer.
In our lives as followers of Jesus, we have been commanded and enabled to love God and others. We are also commissioned to teach people all that Jesus commands us to obey as His people. Our task is significant, and we dare not take it lightly. Disobedience has serious consequences. Additionally, we, too, must understand that we are not responsible for how people react to the warnings. We are to be faithful to the task of communicating the warnings.
We are to faithfully share the gospel hope of Jesus with sinners who are outside the community of faith in hopes that God will turn their hearts from darkness of sin to the light of righteousness in Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). We are also to care genuinely about the beliefs and behaviors of fellow believers, realizing that failing to confront them is not only unloving, but it is also disobedient (Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Corinthians 5; Galatians 6:1-2; Hebrews 3:12-14).
Loving God and loving truth indicate that we love others and lovingly speak the truth to them as well. Hearing and obeying the truth is the greatest need any individual can have. 1 John 3:16–18 “16By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”
How well do you love others?