“Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.” Ephesians 4:29
I think sometimes we use scriptures like this to justify not correcting a brother or sister in Christ. We equate harmful with judgement and conflict. We prefer to avoid confrontation. We don’t want to be harsh. We chose our own comfort over speaking the truth of God to the sin we see before us. Yet, the Bible offers stricter guidelines.
“If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15
Instead we fail to realize that correction is helpful. Letting someone stay in their sin is hurtful.; it can have eternal consequences. Correction can bring healthy change and growth. That change and growth are good not only for the individual but also the Church, which is why God calls for us to not tolerate intentional sin.
“But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”” 1 Corinthians 5:11-13
When we speak the truth in love we can bring correction into the life of another believer. It has the potential to build up that person. We are called to edify each other.
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
“But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13
At the same time, correction may also provide what is needed in a church body or the Church. Someone walking in deception may not be able to share truth that has not been revealed to them. Someone in active sin may not be able or willing to fulfill their role in the body.
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:15-16
“But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body……If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” 1 Corinthians 12:18-20, 26-27
I think about correction I have received in my life from brothers and sisters in Christ. There were times I didn’t want to hear it, but needed it none the less. I did not need to be a stumbling block to someone else.
At other times, I welcomed the correction as confirmation about what God was already speaking to me about in private. I welcomed it for the growth I knew would come. Many times it has helped me step into the next area God is taking me. I needed the change to be prepared for what was next.
There have also been times in my life where I rebelled against the correction. (And also rebelled against offering correction). I faced the consequences of my actions. What could have been a simple course correction, instead ended up being a big life lesson. I quickly learned to receive feedback.
God uses others to bring about the good He desires in my life. It is good to be corrected; it means I am still growing in Him. Continued growth should never stop this side of eternity as I can always grow to be more like Him!
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