David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then, to protect his evil secret, arranged for her husband’s death. Month after month dragged by, but the king showed no sign of remorse. Finally, God sent a faithful friend, the prophet Nathan, to confront David. Knowing that the king could execute him for speaking out, Nathan said, “By this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord” (2 Sam. 12:14). Without hesitation the king humbled himself and confessed that he had “sinned against the Lord” (v. 13). If Nathan had failed to speak up, would David have repented? Probably not. He would have died lost.
We, too, have friends who will die lost without our intervention. And yes, speaking up is sometimes risky. Consider two incidents in the life of the early church. The Sanhedrin commanded Peter and John to stop preaching in the name of Jesus. Knowing that serious trouble lay ahead, the leaders in the Jerusalem congregation prayed: “Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness” (Acts 4:29). When the preacher Ananias was told in a vision to go and share the Gospel with the murderous church persecutor Saul of Tarsus, he complained, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to thy saints at Jerusalem” (9:13). But what was the Lord’s reply? Go!
The Lord has the same message for us. He understands that confronting others with the truth is risky but insists that we go anyway. If a neighbor is imperiled by a house fire, we cannot rescue him without endangering ourselves. This is true of hell too. Jude instructs us to “convince some, who doubt; save some, by snatching them out of the fire” (Jude 1:22-23).