I'm sure we all have someone in our lives who isn't living the way they ought to live. Maybe they're living in sin or out of church. Perhaps they've taken a wrong turn and are currently headed in a dangerous direction. Maybe they're wasteful or irresponsible. Whatever the case, the situation warrants prayer. And we've prayed. Heaven knows we've prayed, but they just don't seem to be getting the picture. We've tried to reason with them, to guilt them into getting their act together and, in some cases, parted company. Oddly enough, we want to hug them and slap them all at the same time.
But according to II Thessalonians 3:4, it's not our job to change people. We don't have that power or authority. Be an example? Absolutely. Be an encouragement? Definitely. Teach others how to walk the right road? Without a doubt. But "fix" people? No, I'm afraid that's not in our job description. God alone has the power and authority to change lives. It is His Spirit that convicts the heart. He is the One who whispers, guides, and corrects. And ultimately, everyone has been given the gift of choice to determine what they will do with those holy nudges. Some fight; others concede. It's their choice.
On the surface, this may sound a bit depressing, like maybe I'm saying your loved one has made a poor choice and now they have to live with it. That's not at all what I'm saying. What I'm trying to get across is that our job is to be a living example of all God wants us to be and to pray for those who have gone astray. We are to love them and encourage them to the best of our ability. But beyond that, we must turn them over to God instead of trying to fix them ourselves. God knows how to get through to them. He knows what it will take for them to surrender their will to His. The good news for us is that when we bring someone to the Lord in prayer, we can be confident that we're committing them to the only One who can make a difference. We're placing their care and conviction in the almighty, all-powering, all-knowing God.
Think about it, if God could get through to Paul (formerly Saul, the Christian-killer), then He can get through to anybody. Ultimately, everyone has a choice, but God can be pretty convincing, and He's not willing that any should perish. Instead of allowing our wayward loved ones to cause us worry and regret, we can find hope in the fact that God is not through with them yet. He is "touching" them, longing to bring them back into the fold. Believe it or not, He cares for them far more than we do.
My friend, keep praying and be confident that God is working on those who have gone astray. No one is a lost cause!