The aim of correction is to stop wrong behaviour and bring improvement in the future in any area of life, from the training and discipline of children, through life in general and including our spiritual walk. A wise person will respond to correction and counsel and will gain understanding and ultimately love the corrector while a hardened scorner will only mock (Prov 9:7,8, 12:1, 13:18, 15:31).  Those who ignore discipline despise themselves and will perish (Prov 15:10,32). There should be adequate prior instruction, guidance and advice given so any correction is warranted and not a genuine surprise, a ‘What did I do wrong?’ reaction.

General guidelines include ‘not noticing’ every mistake – be discerning and focus on the major pivotal areas. Humility is essential – besides desiring the best for the other person it is not an attack on the person, rather an addressing of a wrong habit or action. Before addressing any issue ask yourself honestly, could I be wrong and the other person right?

Divine correction

God disciplines those He  loves – it is for our good so we may share in His holiness, and although it is not pleasant but painful, it produces Christ-like character in those who respond rightly (Heb 12:5-11).   “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,

God loves us too much to leave us the way we are

but His hands also heal” (Job 5:17,18).

The Word of God and the Holy Spirit, together with our conscience, brings conviction and correction as does the counsel of others, divine discipline through circumstances with accompanying consequences and human authorities – be it government, employer or parent (Rom 13:2).

Human correction

Unfortunately, parents often do this out of anger or frustration rather than with reasoned loving discipline, and so do not properly address the offence. If you have been subject to such treatment, try not to have a wrong attitude to those who did it but be like Christ who

Don't resent the human channel

entrusted Himself to God’s justice (1 Pet 2:19-23). “The rod of discipline imparts wisdom but a child left to itself will bring shame to his parents” (Prov 29:15).  A verbal explanation must precede any physical correction, then be followed with a loving embrace. Lovingly consistent and firm discipline helps children learn to be wise so they will be able to direct their own lives by making right choices. Seldom do society’s justice systems address the real core values, to prevent repeat offending.  

Sometimes our friends and family members make choices that are wrong and if they continue down these paths, will wreck their lives.  If we neglect to confront them about those choices, we aren’t showing them genuine love.  Real love is bold enough to share openly our concerns.  When others do it to us, hear them out and don’t let pride prevent you from admitting you made an unwise choice; repent and correct what is wrong.  Also, thank them for caring enough to challenge you.  We have a responsibility to other believers too. In response to Cain’s question, we are our brother’s keeper (Gen 4:9).

Church issues

These must also be confronted in love and humility with the purpose of seeking repentance from sin and ruin to being restored and walking in righteousness (Gal 6:1; Jas 5:19,20).

“All Scripture is given for teaching, rebuking, and training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). God has given us the ministry of reconciliation – restoring people into right relationship with God and others (2 Cor 5:18-20).  The basis for confronting is that what is done against believers is done against Christ Himself, “Whatever you did for one of did for me” (Mt 25:35-40; 2 Cor 2:5).  It is not a licence to challenge people about anything we don’t agree with, only issues that violate scripture. Sin and wrong must be dealt with or else ruin will come as everyone does what they want (Jdg 17:6; Prov 12:15). Paul confronted Peter over a major doctrinal error, which if left unaddressed would have split the early church (Gal 2:11-21). Our beliefs are to be based on the clear teaching of Scripture – direct instruction or principles consistent with the tone of the Bible and nature of God.

Adequate teaching instructs people to know how to live uprightly, so they will not do what needs to be corrected as prevention is better than cure; obedience is better than trying to put the mistake right after sinning (1 Sam 15:22). “Those who claim to live in God should

What is my reaction to correction?

live as Jesus did” (1 Jn 2:6). When new people come to faith in Christ, they often have ungodly ways that need addressing along with those who slip from the divine standard. The sexual realm is a key area and Paul outlined the steps to be taken by the church to deal with immorality (1 Cor 5:1-13).

The early church realised it was unwise to overwhelm the new believers with a long list of regulations but rather focused on key issues (Act 15:19-29). As they lived obediently in these areas, the Holy Spirit could instruct and refine them in other matters. Believers should encourage and pray for one another as well as maintaining the standards of God’s Word.  When believers indulge in sin explicitly forbidden in Scripture appropriate action must be taken to maintain Godly principles or else the sinful conduct will spread and affect the whole group.  We are not to gossip about the sins of others rather they should cause us sorrow. If an elder sins they are to be rebuked publicly (1 Tim 5:20).

Sometimes church discipline is too lenient and doesn’t address the issue fully or else it is too hard and unforgiving. The purpose is to show from Scripture the error, with the aim of repentance followed by reconciliation and restoration. Paul instructed Timothy to correct faults (get the people back on track), rebuke false teaching (heresy), and encourage the believers to walk on in the Christian life (2 Tim 4:2).  Aquila and Priscilla instructed Apollos more fully in the truth, correcting his limited understanding so he could share accurately (Act 18:26).

See also: brothers keeper, church discipline, confront, criticism, discipline, error, judging, punishment, reaction, submission, training.