Correcting People Is Loving

marriage-gods-way-author-scott-lapierre-correcting peopleLast post discussed the importance of correcting people, something largely ignored by the world. Our culture often says “love” means letting people do whatever they want whether it is detrimental to them or anyone else. Disagreeing with someone’s choices or lifestyle makes you at best unloving, and at worst hateful. This logic demands sitting back silently while people make decisions that are detrimental to them or others.

The Bible, on the other hand, points out the logical reality that love demands correcting people:

Proverbs 9:8 Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.

He will love you, because he has the wisdom to recognize you have done him a favor.

Correcting People: The Behavior of Friends Versus Enemies

David saw it as an act of love to be rebuked by someone:

Psalm 141:5 Let the righteous strike me;
It shall be a kindness.
And let him rebuke me;
It shall be as excellent oil;
Let my head not refuse it.

David invited correction, because he knew how important it was if he was going to live a life fully committed to the Lord.

When someone is sinning, correcting is what a friend does. Silence – or worse encouragement – is what an enemy does:

Proverbs 27:5 Open rebuke is better
Than love carefully concealed.
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.

Rebuking is better or more loving than “love” that remains silent when it should speak up. A true friend will hurt you at times. Someone who praises or compliments when a rebuke should take place is not just unloving, but is an enemy because of the selfishness of supporting or encouraging a destructive behavior.

Ecclesiastes 7:5 communicates the same truth:

It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise
Than for a man to hear the song of fools.

Comparing Ecclesiastes 7:5 with Proverbs 27:6 it is better to be wounded/rebuked by someone wise than kissed/sung to (or praised) by a fool/enemy.

A Wonderful Example

Nathan the prophet was a faithful friend to David. When David’s son Adonijah rebelled against him, two of David’s closest friends – Joab and Abiathar – tragically joined him (1 Kings 1:7). Nathan stayed faithful to David though. He warned David about the betrayal through David’s wife Bathsheba (1 Kings 1:11-24).

Was this the greatest example of Nathan’s friendship? I don’t think so. I think the greatest example took place years earlier when Nathan confronted David about his sins of adultery and murder. David refused to repent. He tried to hide his sin, and for almost a year he had been able to do so. But then Nathan visited David and told him a story about a man who acted very wickedly. David didn’t know the story was about him. In 2 Samuel 12:5-7 Nathan revealed the truth:

So David’s anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die! And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity.”
Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!

When was Nathan a better friend to David? When he stood by David or when he confronted him about his sin? I would say when he confronted him, because that’s when Nathan risked the most, even his own life.

If you want to know who your real friends are, think of the people who have been honest with you even when they knew it would hurt. If you want to know the people who really love you, think of the people who corrected you even when they knew it might damage the relationship. Of the friends we have, these are the ones who love us enough to put our best interests ahead of even the friendship itself.

23 thoughts on “Correcting People Is Loving

  1. We certainly need to be honest and being able to correct a friend is a loving thing to do.

    Of course we need to be sure that we are correcting out of love; both love for the person and a love for God.

    When we correct or rebuke from a place of love we’re doing so because we want the very best for the other person. (Even though sometimes that other person won’t see that.) We’re told to be loving towards everyone, even our enemies, therefore it can be helpful to examine our own heart and motives before correcting others.

    1. Great thoughts Rodney, thanks.

      You’re right. I didn’t delve into that much – well, really at all :). But yes, we definitely can confront out of anger or bitterness versus love. Instead of wanting to help we want to harm.

      What’s interesting – that I’ve had to consider in ministry at times – is even when people have wanted to be hurtful instead of helpful, there could still be some truth!

    2. Absolutely. I’ve had people ‘throw correction’ in my direction out of anger or bitterness and I’ve had to separate what they’ve said from the way they’ve said it. I’ve tried to discern if there has been any truth to their words and then act on them.

      I wonder how much angrier those people would be if they realised that what was meant to hurt me actually helped. 🙂

    3. Oh man, good stuff :).

      If I’m “lucky” the criticism will be in an e-mail and I can forward it to the elders (and often my wife) and say, “Okay, what truth do you see in this?”

  2. Thank you so much for this, I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am that you wrote this. Love is telling people the truth. Our country is in the state that we are in today because if the lack of love for one another. Sadly, because Christians don’t want to step on the worlds toes and offend anyone, we stay silent when we have the knowledge that could change the course of situations. When we learn how to share the truth in love, we will be in a better place. My people parish from a lack of knowledge. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    1. Hello Tiffani,
      Wow, wonderful to hear that! You might check out the previous post too if you enjoyed this one so much, and I’ll have another (or two) coming out along the same topic.

      I agree with what you said about our nation, and I think this is why we’re at with homosexual marriage and abortion.

  3. This is so true. In today’s society where we don’t want to correct each other out of fear of rejection it really is a breath of fresh air when we find friends who will do so in a biblical and loving fashion. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Hi Mihaela,
      Yes, in a sense I think that’s one of the ways to be left with regret ourselves: when we didn’t say something and have to look back feeling like we could’ve prevented someone’s hurt.

  4. I agree totally with your message of it being loving to correct people. It is not an easy thing to do because some people are not willing to face things about themselves and they may reject us or become offended by our trying to help them face something about themselves that is hindering their spiritual lives. It’s easier to not get involved sometimes, but it’s not the right thing to do if we fail to speak up when the Holy Spirit prompts us to do so. Was just reading in Psalms today about this very topic: Ch. 15 speaking of who may find refuge and shelter on God’s holy hill (Living Bible paraphrase) Verse 15:4 “he who speaks out against sin, criticizes those committing it.” Ch. 19:11 speaking of God’s laws: “for they warn us away from harm and give success to those who obey them.” If we love someone enough to warn them from harm and want to see them successful and living in obedience to God, we have done the loving thing and what they do with that is not on our heads, for we have done our part.

    1. Hi Rebecca,
      No, it is not easy! And you are right that it’s made more difficult by the fear you mentioned: that people won’t take the correction well and will instead become angry at us.

      I really appreciate the wisdom you shared, and especially the verses. That does really identify with the post. I’m glad my blog was able to support your daily bible reading.

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope you’re doing well.

  5. Absolutely! My closest friends sharpen with me honestly and I truly appreciate them for it. You’re right we live in a culture of “do what makes you happy” but chasing happiness can lead you straight to regret if you aren’t taking wisdom into consideration and many times correction can provide that wisdom for our GOOD. Thanks for sharing this!

    1. Hi Brittney,
      I didn’t mention it in the post, but your mention of friends “sharpening” you reminded me of this verse:

      Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron,
      So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

      I’m sure you are better for having the humility to receive your friend’s correction.

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