The Bible tells us “Scripture is…profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness.” But one of the dangers is being judgmental. Here’s how and how NOT to perform this delicate balance.
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
– 2 Timothy 3:16-17
The message in the above verse is through the use of Holy Scripture, the Christian is being continually more perfectly instructed in holy living, according to the pulpit commentary at Bible Hub.
Simply put, the Bible is the source of what is proper for the Christian and what is sinful and to be avoided.
The Bible itself gives advice on teaching and correcting others. It instructs us to use Scripture as guidelines
Can we trust what is written in the Bible? After all, the writings are thousands of years old, right? Times change, right? Times change, but human nature does not. The core of human behavior that the Bible offers guidance on is unchanging from generation to generation. Therefore, so is the Bible’s advice.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
– Hebrews 13:8
But how do we know what was written in the Bible really comes from God?
“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture comes from one’s own interpretation. For no such prophecy was ever brought forth by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
– 2 Peter 1:20-21
The Bible may have been written through the hands of human beings, but what was written was inserted into their minds by God. The Bible is God’s message and instruction to humankind.
“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
– John 7:24
Jesus’ words remind us that correcting others is a delicate balance. One must be respectful, while never crossing the line into being judgmental.
Correction is all about reinforcing the teachings of God. Even Jesus acknowledged what he taught, came from God.
“So Jesus answered them, ‘My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.'”
– John 7:16
“The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood.”
– John 7:18
“The following sentence is perfectly general and applicable to all teachers of Divine truth, though it only reaches its highest expression in Christ himself,” the pulpit commentary at Bible Hub writes.
What that means is we can apply this to ourselves when using the Bible for correction. Our efforts should always be to give instruction that removes the self and glorifies God and His will for us.
First, don’t jump straight into correcting their error(s). It is imperative that you begin by reinforcing brotherly or sisterly love. In other words, let the person you are about to correct first know how much you care about them and that your motivation is solely to ensure their best interests.
Secondly, watch your tone. Make sure your approach is gentle.
Third, watch your attitude. Display humility to ensure you don’t come off as taking a superior stance, which would be perceived as judgmental.
In a 2005 sermon, John Piper warned that in order to obey the Bible and use it to correct someone “you’ve got to pass judgment.”
Therefore, the “what NOT to do” part of correcting someone is all about how to avoid being too judgmental in doing so.
We all make errors. Try to imagine how you would feel standing in the shoes of the person you are correcting.
How would you want to be treated? What would you NOT want someone to say to you? What would be too indelicate for you? What would be embarrassing or humiliating?
Finally, what could someone say to you that would be constructive criticism, while not being overly hurtful or judgmental?
Once you know these answers, say that.
When we are giving correction, we must always remember that we are not infallible ourselves. We too will be judged. Jesus said:
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”
– Matthew 7:1-2