Wednesday, July 20, 2016

How Should You Correct Others?

"Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won't be tempted."  (Gal.6:1)

If you have children, you have spent or will spend a great deal of your life correcting them. Don't put the needle nose plyers in the electrical plug. Don't play in the street. Don't color on the wall. Don't stay out past midnight. It's what you do to raise kids. As they grow older, you also learn to pick your battles. I'm learning how to do that since both of my children are now young adults. I may still say, "don't", but mostly it's from a coaching perspective. It's a hard, but necessary transition.

If you follow Christ, your desire is to be part of His Great Mission to "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you." (Matt.28:19-20a)  You are not just called to preach the good news of salvation, but also the good news of His Way and His Life.

The Gospel isn't just how to be saved, but how to live saved. We must be taught the Gospel to be saved, and we must also be taught the Gospel to live saved. (2Tim.2:10-17) If we are to live renewed lives, we must have renewed minds. Our minds are renewed by God as the Holy Spirit works through His Word. His Word is available through the Bible, and is applied through the Body of Christ. We are iron sharpening iron. (Pr.27:17)  We are not parenting one another. We are to be sharpening one another. That sometimes requires correction, sometimes rescuing from wrongdoing. There's far too much in the Bible about this to put in a short article, but I want to give you some basic guidelines using Galatians 6:1.

Brother - If you love the truth, and care enough to correct, you're probably committed to the truth of God's Word. You see someone caught in a violation of His Word. Don't let your zeal for the truth turn them into an enemy of the truth.

Wrongdoing - Make sure you're correcting a clear violation of God's Words and Ways. A person may irritate you, but that may not be grounds for correction. It's not about your preference, but God's.

Restoration - The goal is to restore the person to a walk with the Lord. It's not to dominate them and make them like you. That was the sin of the Pharisees.

Gentle Spirit - Get over yourself first. You have to spend time in prayer, with the Word, and with the Lord before you begin this process. You must be spiritual = filled with, controlled by, and manifesting the Holy Spirit. 

Humble Yourself - Someone told me that they could never do this, because they just weren't spirit-filled enough. That's not humility and that's not an excuse. If you're not qualified to restore a brother caught in a wrongdoing, get with God and get qualified. "Watching out for yourself" isn't an option, and not something we do just before we go try to rescue someone. It's something we must always do. This is too important. The body of Christ is too important. The mission is too important.

Pray, Abide In The Word, Love The Brethren - None of the above will be done unless these three things are your regular practice.

What would church be like if we expected this, that our brothers and sisters would love us enough to come alongside us and rescue us when we were caught in a wrongdoing? What would it be like if we were committed to the mission to proclaim His Gospel, be taught His Ways, and to obey them? What if obedience to Christ was the goal of our life and our churches? What if we were so committed to the glory and honor of God that we loved the brethren with a holy love that would not let us rest while they walked in sin?

No. No one is perfect, but One. We are called to follow that One, to become like that One and to do that together. May God give us the grace and humility to be corrected and to correct, to be rescued and to rescue. May we fear God and not man, for only then will man see and hear the Gospel that saves.

(Part three of a three-part series entitled, "Christian Correction")