Let me tell you an old story that's been on my mind the past few weeks.
The typical moral of this fable is that kindness is more effective than severity. I think you can also see another truth in it. Why is it that the sun succeeds where the wind fails?
Because the sun recognizes that, ultimately, the cloak is not the problem.
Do you see the distinction? The true problem was not that the man was wearing the cloak, but why he was wearing the cloak. The problem was that the man was cold. The wind doesn't understand this. It tries only to fix the external problem. But even if the wind suceeds in tearing the traveler's cloak away, would the true problem be resolved? No, of course not. The man would still be cold, and he would still desire the cloak.
It's natural for us to try to help people in that way. We look at the outward appearance, and often the only end result we want is for the problem to stop being visible. My friend with depression just needs to stop looking so sad, the friend I don't understand needs to start acting more like me, we should just pretend like that time we fought never happened.
But the why is more important than the wherefore. A fever is treatable, and so is an infection. But you'll never find the infection you can't see if you only care about getting rid of the fever you can see. And sometimes, the harder you rage at a sympton, the deeper the underlying problem grows.
We have the responsiblity to love people holistically. If all we ever do is condemn the outward appearance, we're sending a message that outward conformity – the external appearance of a right heart – is more important than true relationship and healing.