ODJ: loving correction

January 7, 2016 

READ: Matthew 7:1-5 

Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye (v.5).

In an interview on a popular website, an author was asked about her divorce and remarriage. The divorce had devastated her and her ex-husband, she said. She had believed marriage was a lifelong commitment and still did, and she had sought pastoral guidance as to whether remarriage to her new husband was right. I finished the article and scrolled down to the comments section.

Stones were hurled at the author from every direction. “The Bible says divorce is a sin,” people said. “Remarriage makes her an adulterer.” “She clearly hasn’t repented.” One zealous individual scanned the web for everything he could find on the author, and he belittled her life and work.

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged,” Jesus said. “For you will be treated as you treat others” (Matthew 7:1-2). Jesus wasn’t saying we shouldn’t discern right and wrong or speak out when necessary. He was teaching against a critical, graceless spirit that claims the right to condemn. Such a right isn’t ours.

God is the only perfect judge of a person. We don’t know all the facts and can’t read people’s minds, so we can’t judge someone’s actions or motives from one article. Even if we could, we should never condemn them, because we too are sinners and could be tempted by the same sin (vv.3-4). The purpose of biblical correction isn’t condemnation but guidance back to the right path (Galatians 6:1).

Yes, we are to correct other believers in Jesus. But first, we need to check our own lives (Matthew 7:5). Also, we should know the person well and have that person’s permission to speak to him or her in truth and love—gently seeking that person’s restoration in Jesus. That will reflect God’s loving heart.

—Sheridan Voysey

365-day-plan: Genesis 9:1-17

Read James 4:11-12 and consider what it means to “criticize and judge” another person wrongfully. 
When are you tempted to be critical of someone? How can you discern right and wrong without becoming judgmental?