One thing I’m learning is that everyone has something dark in their past… or present… that almost nobody knows about. Sometimes it’s hard to know whether you should tell someone else or not. Here are a few thoughts on when to tell.

You should consider telling someone else…

1. When you haven’t told anyone.

You need to have at least one other person who knows your deepest struggles/secrets and can advise you with the whole picture in mind. “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16).

2. When not telling would break either God’s law or man’s law.

When you know something that you are legally or ethically obligated to tell, there is no virtue in holding back. Attempts to protect others only keep them imprisoned in their own guilt and can cause additional damage.

You are not responsible for how the information may affect another person in this case. You are responsible to do your duty before God and man.

3. When the person you are telling is either part of the problem or part of the solution.

It is crucial that you make wise decisions about who you will open up to. Generally, you need to go to someone that you trust and someone who will know what is the next right step. That means they need to be someone who knows and lives God’s word. Often, the best person to go to will be an authority figure in your life.

4. When telling will help either you or the person you are telling.

It can be dangerous to tell just anything to anyone. To spread sensitive concerns gratuitously can lead to unnecessary temptation and burden. If telling will benefit you in some specific way, then it is legitimate to tell. If telling will help the other person in their own lives, then it is legitimate to tell. If telling does not serve one of these purposes, we need to be cautious.

5. When you need to tell.

When you get to the point where a particular matter is a burden too heavy to bear, then it is time to take it to someone else who can help you bear the burden. “Bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). You were never meant to go it alone.

Telling the right person, under the right circumstances, may be the most helpful thing you will ever do.

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About Jason Harris

Dr Jason Harris is a writer, pastor, and academic. He has authored multiple books, articles, and papers including his book Theological Meditations on the Gospel. Jason has a PhD from James Cook University as well as degrees in theology, music, accounting, and research. Jason has lived in Cairns, Australia since 2007 and serves as pastor at CrossPoint Church. You can contact Jason at

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