If correction is needed, what kind of person would you prefer to deliver the message? Would you rather it be a humble or arrogant person? Of course we want the humble person, don’t we? It is very difficult to respond positively to an arrogant person. A humble person is a much better choice for delivering a corrective message, but correction is still the issue.
Think of a person you deeply respect. Maybe it is a parent, grandparent, teacher, former pastor, current pastor, a Bible study teacher, or maybe it is Billy Graham. Think about their walk with God. You trust they have a deep relationship with Christ. If that person should observe you doing something wrong this week and they approached you and said, “I heard what you said the other day and that wasn’t appropriate. You need to make that situation right.” How would you respond? Even if it is a person you deeply respect and they corrected you in humility, the truth still hurts. You may not like to hear what they said, but because of the Spirit in which it was shared, you hear it loud and clear. After thinking through what they said you still may not change immediately, but you can’t blame it on a person who did not have your best interest at heart. Everyone needs other humble people in their life who will help them see their faults.
A personal safety warning should be issued at this point. Do not go to everyone you know who has done something wrong and correct them! Your life may be in jeopardy at that point! If God brings a person across your path who has opposed themselves, and it is obvious that person is in your circle of influence, obey God and humbly help them.
Christians who have knowingly committed sin and then are corrected in humility will either become mellow or hard hearted when they hear the truth. If you are the one being corrected, you will face the same choice of response. Your response to truth is not determined by the spirit of the person delivering the message. Your reaction to the truth is determined by your spirit. The safest response to needed correction is to change. To delay change may require increased discipline by God to turn your heart back to Him.
Jesus said to the church at Laodicea, “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth” (Rev. 3:16). If you are cold, you know you are cold. If you are hot, you know you are hot. But, if you are lukewarm you hardly know you exist. When a lukewarm person is corrected he/she does not see much need for change. An unrepentant believer is not received well by Jesus.
Reproof and correction are helpful but not painless. If you go to the doctor and the exam reveals the need for surgery, it is difficult to hear the news. No one wants to hear, “Surgery is required to correct this problem.” Next, you may hear, “This is a routine surgery.” Routine for who? While the bad news is not easy to comprehend, at least it is good to hear the problem does have a cure. The scalpel the surgeon uses is still sharp. It cuts and reveals the problem when it is used. Yet, the outcome is improved health.
When you have done the wrong thing, said the wrong thing, acted the wrong way, or responded to people in a way you shouldn’t have, it may be painful to correct the issue. It is not always painless in making things right with God–but the end result is good spiritual health.
Good intentions are not the same as good follow through. The human perspective to problems may seem more sensible to ignore a person’s faults–this way we do not have to get involved in the situation. It does seem easier to ignore an offense than correct an offense. However, ignoring an offense will result in a negative impact to that person and most likely to their friends and family. Though your responsibility is not to approach everyone you know and tell them their offenses, your responsibility is to walk in the Spirit and be used by God to help others. If God places a burden on your heart to speak to them, you must obey God. The follow through is critical. Good intentions will allow the problem to fester.
If you are wrong, take your medicine and get well. If you think a friend who attempted to correct you was wrong, thank God that you have a friend that loves and cares for you enough to be concerned for you!
*Adapted from The Christian Life: A Human Impossibility by Kerry L. Skinner