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Friday, September 16, 2016

Gentle Correction

with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,
2 Timothy 2:25 NASB

Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.
Galatians 6:1 NASB

Sometimes people need correction...non-believers and Christians as well (in different ways).
The goal of correction should be reconciliation to Christ, and the method should be loving while standing firmly on the truth of God's Word.
Inside the Church, God has prescribed a method of church discipline.

When the issue that is being addressed is a lack of wisdom in a professed believer, we must be very careful not to be crushing in our attempts to address the person.
Sometimes, there may not be a black and white Biblical issue, even though Biblical principles may apply.  
In such cases, the person may have to learn by life experience and Bible study.
Other times, it may be that a person is not as far along in their spiritual growth process or understanding of Scripture.
It may be that they need time to be refined.
Sometimes people learn through making wrong decisions or by trials that show just how far we still have to go in growing.

Public teaching that is error can be addressed publicly (pastors are to address it in a different way than confrontation of false teachers and teaching may be needed by pastors elders), but there is a fine line between someone who intentionally leads people astray and someone who is in error who needs gentle correction.

Protecting sheep is good, but the difficulty is to do so without harming other sheep or the reputation of the Church at large.

No matter how error or blatant sin is addressed, someone will be offended.
The difficulty is to speak the truth in love.
It should be the Biblical truth we stand on that they have a problem with - rather than how we say it.
This would be true with dealings with Christians and non-Christians alike.

I have seen many believers unwilling to stay friends with each other when they have strong disagreements, though I believe they are likely all true Christians.
This is true of a number of relationships, so don't take this as being only about one situation.

While secondary separation is sometimes necessary, people needn't be unforgiving and harsh when two people are truly Christian brothers (or sisters).

Patience, love, kindness, gentleness, and forgiveness... 
these are all things that should be what Christians exemplify....even if we can't support the behavior or decisions of someone else.
God has been patient with me.  He loved me even when I was His enemy.  He loves me though I still sin and don't want to.
I'm much like the person J.C. Ryle described who struggles with assurance confusing justification and sanctification though I have knowledge of the difference. 
If God is patient with me, I shouldn't shun others (though there may be some I wouldn't publicly endorse).

True Christians have unity around the Gospel, and we can strongly disagree about some things while letting each other know that we still love each other.
Sometimes our behavior seems to contradict what we say.
One day all true Christians will be in Heaven together.
We'd best remember that.

This post is me digging in and thinking out loud.
May it be of some edification for those who read it.

but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ,
Ephesians 4:15 NASB

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