How unfortunate for the church when Satan causes brethren to say and do things which destroy harmony among God's people. Many problems would be solved if brethren had the right attitude toward one another and studied the scriptures to discern God's will.
The matter of correcting a brother overtaken in a fault is perhaps the least studied and the worst handled. Unscriptural thinking has resulted in unrest and discord, for it is heartbreaking to see brethren at odds -- often bitter towards each other -- when there is really no need for this kind of a situation. We need to study the Bible more on this subject and obey God's will rather than our own.
I am not writing this article because I'm a recognized Bible authority -- neither am I endeavoring to fully cover this subject. My hope is that you will stop and think regarding this matter. I would like to see more harmony and love among God's children rather than the bitter conditions which exist in many congregations.
I know of a condition in one congregation where two brothers haven't been friendly toward each other for years. They each had a personal grudge toward the other. How can this type of condition be pleasing to the Lord? In another local church there were bitter feelings among brethren over a problem which had been solved for some time. However, these "Christians" weren't about to forgive each other and forget what had happened in the past. They held evil thoughts and acted in accord with their own feelings.
When it comes to the matter of correcting a brother overtaken in a fault, what attitude should we have? Certainly this cannot be overlooked, for Galatians 6:1-2 teaches that correction MUST take place. But who is to do the correcting and how is it to be done? Secondly, what is a fault? A fault is a "lapse or deviation from the truth and uprightness; a sin, misdeed" (Thayer, p.485). Sins are listed in the Bible and are to be avoided by the Christians who would live acceptable in the sight of God. Jesus wants a "glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such things; but that it might be holy and blameless" (Eph. 5:27). A fault, then, is NOT PLEASING THE LORD and must be corrected by one who is spiritual in the spirit of meekness. How often these conditions are overlooked.
And, we are to CONFESS OUR FAULTS to each other so that we may be healed (James 5:16). It is usual to hide them rather than confess them. No wonder correction fails. It is too easy to point out faults in others and hide our own. In Matt. 7:1-5 Jesus teaches to "clean-up our own backyards first."
Matters could more easily be settled in the church if brethren would employ the right method along with the right attitude. When it comes to correcting another we employ tactics we wouldn't want used on ourselves. Think how you would like to be treated --then treat the other person in this manner. Employ understanding and love, yet be firm. More has been accomplished through love than in any other manner.
We would have more influence on others for right if we would live as examples and walk in love (Eph. 4:31-32; 5:1-2). When we live a spiritual life--right in the sight of God--we can then influence others to do the same. We can then correct those who have faults. Only then will we have a church acceptable to God as taught in Eph. 5:27.
Finally, let us not be guilty of failure to forgive and forget. Paul taught the Corinthian church on this matter in 2 Cor. 2:5-11 when a Christian had previously caused them grief. Paul said to forgive him; comfort him; and confirm their love to him lest he "be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow" and Satan would get the advantage. Let us do the same. Too often brethren hold past sins against a Christian who has repented and straightened out his life.
Think on this problem of correction. You can handle it right. Treat others right -- as you would have them treat you. You CAN help the church grow spiritually by being spiritual -- by WALKING IN LOVE.