Correction. An important part of discipleship, but also one of the hardest to give when establishing someone. It’s one thing to graciously receive correction, but another thing to graciously give it.

To correct simply means to put right or to make better. It’s an action done to improve someone or something. The question is: why must we give it?

My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover a multitude of sins.

James 5:19

 

The Bible encourages us to give correction with the goal of restoring and turning a person from the error of their ways and back to their walk with God. To correct a person is to build that person up in Christ and never to bring them down.

In most Western cultures, people have no problem of correcting plainly or bluntly. In nations such as the Philippines, however, where euphemisms abound, there is a certain discomfort or awkwardness when it comes to giving correction. This becomes all the more real when it applies to people that we’re establishing in the faith.

Correcting in Public vs. Correcting in Private

Have you ever impulsively corrected someone in front of others, causing embarrassment to the person and discomfort to those listening? Correcting someone does not need to get destructive. One of the practical ways to do that is to correct them in private. Doing so provides an avenue for greater vulnerability and personal ministry.  

Brutal Correction vs. Loving Comfort

Was there ever a time when you tried to correct someone by doing all the right things–having the best of intentions, truthfully pointing out what needed to be adjusted, delivering the facts, and planning out the steps that needed to be done–only to end up having a strained relationship, or even worse, losing the person altogether?

On the other hand, have you ever wanted to correct someone so lovingly that all the person got was the encouragement but not the correction? He may have felt comforted, but his life remained unchanged.

How do we avoid swinging from these extremes?

Here’s what Paul writes to his young disciple Timothy who was leading and establishing a church:

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

2 Timothy 4:2

 

The Right Words: the Word of God

Paul encourages Timothy to preach the Word, and get the wisdom to correct people from the Word of God.

Personal Opinion versus Power of Scripture

Oftentimes, in correcting people, we tend to become passionate in exposing the error of their ways and coming up with helpful solutions to benefit them. This passion for the truth must be directed in speaking the truth of the Scriptures, especially where sin patterns and destructive behaviors are present. Two things to remember:

  • The Word of God can cut through the hardest parts in a person’s heart.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

  • The Word of God will accomplish its purpose in a person’s life.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:10-11

Our personal opinion, experience, and wisdom from the advice of others may be good to share as testimonies, but nothing beats the power and authority of the Word of God to change a person’s life.

 

The Right Way: With Great Patience and Careful Instruction

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

2 Timothy 4:2

When we correct a person, do they leave encouraged and eager to study God’s word? Or do they feel hopeless and humiliated?

Paul points out the need for correction, but he doesn’t end there. His exhortation was to correct, rebuke, and encourage. He also points out two things that need to be coupled with our correction: great patience and careful instruction.

Patience: Instant Reformation versus Lasting Transformation

Transformation doesn’t happen overnight. It will take a lot of prayers, faith, and time for the Word of God to bear fruit in a person’s life. We don’t want instant changes that last for only a day or two. What we want is to see how God transforms a person forever. Will you wait and not give up?

Part of us being patient is to correct out of love and not out of frustration. Whether out of love or frustration, this will be evident in our words and actions. After correcting someone, are they still affirmed of our love, or are they wounded by our disappointment? It will take the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit to speak the truth in love with great patience.

Careful Instruction: Copy Paste Solutions versus Careful Instruction

Correcting using careful instruction varies from person to person. We cannot simply give the same instruction to a different person who is going through a similar issue. When was the last time we prayed before giving advice? Do we rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to give us the ability to give biblical and practical instruction? Our hope is that after correction, those we are establishing come out of it with renewed faith and clear instructions specific to their current need or personal situation.

 

The Best Example: God Himself

Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For He wounds but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal.

Job 5:17-18

Correction, coupled with great patience and careful instruction, could very well serve as a springboard that propels people to greater spiritual and leadership growth. Though it may seem like a difficult task, we can offer it as an act of faith towards God and an act of love towards others.