We don’t often think of gentleness as a godly virtue. If we are to correct others God’s Word calls us to do it in a spirit of gentleness. People are fragile, and we must take great care in speaking truth to one another, especially when we see a sin that needs addressing in one another’s lives.
Last week I shared a post titled How Do We Handle Correction? As I wrote that post, my mind was on the way my husband gently corrects me. The Lord has gifted him in this area. I’m so thankful for his precious care he takes with my heart when it needs to be redirected back towards truth.
I had an issue I was struggling with, and I was thinking wrongly about a relationship. I knew I was sinning in my thoughts and my words regarding this situation. My husband patiently listened and spoke truth to me very kindly but direct. He left it there and took it to the Lord in prayer.
Doug allowed the Lord to work in my heart and didn’t badger me or continue to correct me, but after the situation had been settled in my heart and mind with the Lord, we talked about it.
He knew because I’m in Christ I don’t like to let my sin linger. The Lord continues to convict me and discipline me. Doug just gently and kindly spoke the truth and let the Lord do His work in my heart.Are you able to speak gently and lovingly when addressing a sin in someone's life and then let the Lord do His work?
My husband set such a sweet example to me of gentle correction as is laid out in 2 Timothy 2:23-26:
23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. 24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
These passages above layout such a clear way on how we are to correct others within the body of believers.
Avoid Foolish Arguments:
I know the first step before we approach anyone to correct them is to make sure we are looking out for their best and not just trying to correct them because we’re right and they’re wrong. It needs to be done in a spirit of love and care for the other person. Make sure you have removed the log from your own eye.
Determine if this a situation that needs to be addressed or is it one that can be overlooked in the spirit of 1 Peter 4:8 of love covering a multitude of sins.
Is it an important issue of doctrine that is at stake? Is this a major sin in their life that needs addressing? What is your goal? Is it to win an argument or to help your brother or sister in Christ to grow in godliness?
I’m focusing here on relationships closest to us, those within our homes, but this would still be a text to work through on other relationships where biblical correction may be needed.
So what if you’ve determined this issued needs to be addressed; what is the next step.
Correct with Gentleness:
We don’t want our correction of someone to turn into an argument – now we’re both sinning. We are able by the Spirit of God within us to address an issue in a calm and loving spirit. Always pray before you even begin to address anything. Seek the Lord first and His help.
If we begin to raise our voice or argue, we’re no longer coming out of love for the other person because now we’re in sin. This is to be reminded of in correcting our children too.
Correction must be done with the gentleness and same care a nursing mother gives to her child. The word “kind” in verse 24 the apostle Paul uses in 1 Thessalonians 2:7 is when he is comparing himself to a nursing mother caring tenderly for her own child. So ponder that, do you approach someone to correct them with that type of spirit? Are you gentle with them as a nursing mother would be with her child?
The person you’re correcting may come back and begin to point out your flaws at this point too. I think of this so often in marriage when something needs to be addressed because we know the good, bad and the ugly about one another and we are all so prideful. Pray for patience to respond with meekness and gentleness.
Jerry Bridges in his book The Practice of Godliness has written that:
“Gentleness is an active trait, describing the manner in which we should treat others. Meekness is a passive trait, describing the proper Christian response when others mistreat us.”
Correction Must be Based on Truth:
We don’t correct others because we have a difference of opinion. We correct based on the truths of God’s Word. God’s Word is our standard of right and wrong.We don’t correct others because we have a difference of opinion. We correct based on the truths of God’s Word. God’s Word is our standard of right and wrong.
We can too easily get caught up thinking our way is the right way and they're not doing it our way, so they’re wrong. Or they’re not thinking the way we are in this situation. It needs to be clearly about obedience to the Word and not about my personal preferences or opinions.
Our desire for one another is to live by the truth of the Word and to help each other to live in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord.
The Hope is for Repentance:
In verse 26 above Paul uses the word snare. A snare traps an animal just we like we fall into the trap of sin and get caught up and can’t get out. We need help.
Our hope is the Lord will grant repentance. Speak the truth and let the Lord do His work in their hearts as only He can. Pray the Lord will grant them repentance.
I’m so grateful for many people who have alongside me and spoke truth to me when I was wavering off the narrow path. I may not have responded correctly initially, but in time the Lord was gracious to let me see the error of my ways and be able to give thanks in and through all things and especially to be thankful for people who love me enough to continue to point me to the truth.
Give thanks for those in your life who come alongside and point you to truth. Be one of those friends who loves your brother and sisters in the faith enough to come alongside them and gently, kindly, firmly, graciously and prayerfully point them to the truth.
Why do we do it? Because we love God and we love others more than ourselves.
The Practice of Godliness by Jerry Bridges