Sometimes, it is necessary to tell someone that they are going down the wrong path. Scripture mandates that Christians be accountable to one another.
In preparing my Sunday School lesson this week, in Galatians 3:26-4:20, I was struck by Paul’s loving concern for the Galatians. Even while admonishing them for following false teachers, he clearly shows his love. How does he do this?
- He entreats them. He does not demand that they change, he pleads with them.
- He calls them “my little children” because they are his beloved spiritual children
- He clearly states his wish to be with them
- He clearly indicates his concern for them.
Matthew 18:15-30 tells us to tell a fellow believer his/her fault between you and him/her alone. Tweets are not between you and him/her alone. Comments on an internet forum or page are not between you and him/her alone. Facebook posts are not between you and him/her alone. Talking to others about the person’s fault is not between you and him/her alone.
If the person does not listen and mend their ways, then go to the church leaders. If he refuses to listen to you or to the church leaders, “treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” In other words, do not associate closely with him/her in your personal life. Associate only as you must for business/professional purposes.
Nowhere in this passage does it say to publicly excoriate the errant person. Nowhere in this passage does it say to berate them or show hatred toward them.
We are called to love one another. John 13:34-35 says we are to love one another as Jesus first loved us. Jesus loved us sacrificially – He gave His life for us. Jesus loved everyone, sinners and saints.
God hates sin, but loves the sinner.
Let us love one another. Even, or maybe I should say especially, when we are correcting one another. Correct fellow believers with love. Correct them privately first. Then go to church leaders. Then distance yourselves.
But always correct with love. Love one another.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 ESV