Some words from the apostle Paul concerning our tendency want to “correct” others we think are doing wrong.
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Right here, right off the bat – you who are spiritual. It is not for any and all to run around correcting others. According to Paul, “correcting” is for those who are connected to God, for those who rely on the power of God and not their own powers of persuasion and head knowledge. Because divine power is both wise and loving beyond anything we can ever be on our own. So for most of us, myself included, we don’t get to run around pointing out everybody else’s sins and telling them what they need to fix in their lives. Because most of us, if we claim spirituality at all, are nowhere near as connected to God as we think we are.
And of course, we are to do all we do with a spirit of love. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:7 ESV. Love believes all things, love hopes all things. So, if you are spiritual and are feeling the urge to correct someone (usually a sign that you are not as “spiritual” as you think), we don’t correct unless absolutely sure the sin we are correcting actually occurred. If we are not absolutely sure, love believes and hopes all things, so assume the transgression did not occur!! If you can’t do that, at the very least…don’t start correcting assuming it did.
And, we must remember to restore him in a spirit of gentleness. We are not beating them with a stick until they give up their hurt, habit, or hang up!! Remember…“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 ESV. (And you thought that just meant no one else could condemn you!). Our goal is always to restore, not condemn. We aim not to pour condemnation and hot coals on their head, but to gently correct them back to the paths of Jesus so they they may grow in following that path. Jesus Himself came not to condemn, but so that all who believe in Him might be saved! Anything we do or say which does not move someone to restoration is useless and counterproductive.
Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. If you are going to correct someone, the you better be doing it with the full knowledge and humility that you either have done or are capable of doing exactly that which the person you are correcting was caught in, or even worse. Without this, we might feel a sense of superiority or self righteousness which will make the restoration we seek impossible. We will be tempted to come in with a judgmental and accusatory spirit.
Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. If we bring humility and knowledge that we are capable of the same transgressions and worse to the conversation, we can feel the weight, shame and burden as the one we are trying to help as they are trapped in their sin. If we are correcting someone for some transgression, we are most likely speaking of some specific portion of the law. We need to remember that we live under the law of Christ, the law of loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves. If we are pointing to some law to restore one to righteousness, we had better be in line with the “law” of loving our neighbor as ourselves. So we hurt with them, we feel and share their burdens right into our soul, knowing that we were and are just as they are.
As Paul also tells us, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15 ESV
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:1-2 ESV