Genuine love requires speaking words of correction. But I’m afraid that one of the main reasons we’re so apprehensive about offering correction is because we’ve so rarely seen it connected to genuine love. Correction without love is cold, harsh, judgmental, and often cruel. We’ve all experienced this kind of correction before, and it hurts.
Correction without love comes from seeing ourselves as somehow different from those we’re correcting. We stand with God in judgment of the pitiful sinner standing in front of us… Our correct place is not next to God looking down in judgment on sinners. We belong standing side by side with our fellow sinners before a perfectly righteous and overwhelmingly gracious God.
As we stand side by side with one another, correction takes on a very different tone. We stand as fellow sinners similarly in need of correction and familiar with God’s amazing grace. We stand as fellow sinners who have taken the time to remove the logs out of our own eyes before beginning to help our neighbors with the specks in theirs (Matt. 7: 3– 5). We correct, not out of self-righteousness or self-importance, but out of brotherly love.
Just think about the power and beauty of correction when it comes from someone who has taken the time to truly know you, has sacrificed for you, and has given you genuine biblical hope. In the context of this kind of relationship, you would welcome the gentle tap of correction because it would inevitably be delivered with compassion and care. In fact, it’s this love-inspired gentleness that is one of the hallmarks of Christian correction.
Don’t underestimate the power and importance of correction, in any form, when offering gospel care. To correct someone who is wandering (or running) away from Christ is one of the kindest acts of love we can perform. Just as a surgeon cuts his patient for their ultimate good, you are called to correct for the sake of love.
Excerpted from Loving Messy People: The Messy Art of Helping One Another Become More Like Jesus by Scott Mehl.