How (Not) to Correct Another Christian

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Frank Viola is a best-selling author, A-list blogger, speaker, and consultant to authors and writers. His mission is to help serious followers of Jesus know their Lord more deeply so they can experience real transformation and make a lasting impact. See his About page for more information.

  • Sonny Owens

    Agree with you, “It was bad teaching that bred legalism and self-righteousness.” Also bad teaching breeds liberalism and self-righteousness. The two: legalism & liberalism produce……each other. We have allowed one to cause the other.

  • Frank Viola

    Yep. That’s the whole point of the piece. Treating others the same way we want to be treated is how Jesus defined love. Thx. for the agreeing comment.

  • Alex

    what happened to “do it in love?”
    Never rebuke if you are not willing to take the time out of your busy life to teach, to walk with the person and never do any of this. If you are not doing it in LOVE!

  • Jose

    And Thank-you, you’re a gentleman!
    I have always been blessed (much more than I deserve).

  • Frank Viola

    Depends on the situation. The rule of thumb is to treat the person the same way you want to be treated if it were you. Example: when I first started using Twitter, I didn’t know what I was doing and made mistakes. It was “public error.” But a brother in the Lord who was very gracious wrote me privately to spare me embarrassment and corrected me in private. I was grateful for that.

    So it really depends on the situation. Sometimes public error should be corrected publicly, other times it’s to be done in private. Sometimes “public correction” is really misrepresentation of someone’s thoughts or views or words. Consequently, in such cases, the person who is concerned should go to the person individually and privately to make sure they are understanding them correctly before they go public. The same with hearsay or second-hand accounts of a public event.

    Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His day in the context where they were reproving Him first. And He fired back. That’s the bigger picture.

    The Spirit will always lead and He will lead in the way of love — which is to treat that person exactly the way you would want if it were you. Thx. for the kind words about the post. God bless.

  • Jose

    Great Article, great teaching.
    I recently fell foul of this (as the initiator), but I always thought that the private rebuke applied to private error. If I “lead” people into error publicly I should expect public rebuke for the sakes of those I lead.
    After all Jesus did not privately (at least not only) rebuke the Pharisees and Saduccees.

    BTW I’m breathing fine ;-)

  • ToronadoBlue

    This is a “home run” article!!!

  • rvs

    #12–wise. The gleeful corrector is always worrisome. Schadenfreude. Schadenfreude. –Lots of it in Christianity.

  • Grayson Pope

    Great thoughts, Frank. I especially love number 8. We often act as if 2 things are true: 1.) We are the final arbiters of truth and righteousness, and 2.) The Bible isn’t clear on handling disagreements or correction.

    Of course, neither is true. This post is a great reminder of that reality.