Monday, 8 July 2013


Correct in love:
During my NYSC service year, I joined a wonderful fellowship. There, I met people who inspired, encouraged and challenged my faith. Sometimes, I could hardly believe that these people were only fresh university graduates. I remember that one day, I bought a pack of juice for the leader (whom I will call Edet) and his deputy. The deputy was not at home at the time, so sometime later, Edet said he would like to have some of the juice now. I don’t know what came over me when I insisted that he would just have to wait for the deputy to return before he could drink it. Till date, I cringe when I remember the scene. I am not proud of it. Before I knew it, I was dragging the juice with him. Yeah, I know. It was ugly and I actually paused typing to cover my face with both hands. Bear in mind that Edet was about 12 years my senior. I still can’t fathom how it happened. After a while, He looked at me and said, “I could take and pour this juice anyway; fill my cup and pour it on the ground like David did but it will hurt you.” So he poured himself a glass and drank. I could tell that he only drank it not to hurt my feelings even though he was visibly upset himself. To say I was instantly sorry would be undermining how I felt. With one statement, I had been corrected-in compassion. I sometimes think of how I would have felt if he had actually done what he thought to do. I would have been heart-broken and I am sure that the issue may have escalated into other unnecessary issues. The best part of it was, after I mumbled an apology and avoided him for a while (I know why Adam ran from God), the very next time he saw me, he just carried on like we were good-and we were.
My point is: there is a way to correct in love and It is important for us to talk about this before we wind down the discussion on relating with fellow Christians within the local church body, small group or anywhere else.
We earlier considered the ABC of Christian community as affirming, blessing and correcting one another. The former two are pretty easy to understand but effectively correcting people in love requires tact- and The Holy Spirit.
Let it be settled that correcting one another is a basic and important part of Christian relationship. When Peter was saying stuff that Jesus wasn’t cool with, He called him to order. It is not an act of love to see a brother going on the wrong path and keep mum. But the issue here is who determines what is wrong? Sometimes, we need to step back and review if what we want to correct another person about is actually wrong or it just irritates our own personality. If we gripe about everything we don’t like in our church members, we will gradually find ourselves not correcting, but criticising. That is the issue with correcting people; it is easy to slip into criticising them. How do you know keep from crossing the thin line? Take your time.
Correction that is done in love is tempered by time. Immediacy is often a sign of anger and anger does not really speak with the intention of making somebody better but to hurt them because we feel they have hurt us. The Bible encourages us to be slow talkers. While some grievous errors (blatant sins) may have to be corrected immediately, it is usually better to back down and take some time before correcting someone.
Between the time you notice an error and when you correct the person concerned; (after pulling out the log in your own eye), do the following:
1.       Take time to think and pray: What was she thinking? Is she in trouble? Is he being blackmailed? Why did she do that? Would I do that if I were in her shoes? Many questions that only time can let you answer. Hasty confrontations could lead to arguments-arguments that you don’t need since they will eventually take you off the issue at hand. You also need time to pray about the situation: that God will help them see what is wrong with the issue, that if you will eventually speak to the person, The Holy Spirit will give you the right words. That God will engrace the person to sail through any pain or problem that you may be unaware of that may actually be the trigger of their bad behaviour.
2.       Time to NOT take it personal: If it is personal, its personal. But if you want to correct them from the stand point that the act itself is fundamentally wrong, be sure that it is not just a personal preference. You need time to sort out if the issue is really an issue.
3.      Time to build compassion: you remember what Cathy Burton had to say about this? Everyone needs compassion. Taking a while before correcting someone allows us to build compassion for them. For example, when you consider the end of the path they are taking and you see it labelled ‘divorce’, ‘ill-health’, ‘obesity’, ‘indebtedness’ or ‘hell’, you will have compassion for that person (I'm assuming you are a Jesus following somebody). When you see the end, there is an endearment, warmth that your voice will take on when you speak to them and it is difficult not to respond positively to compassion. I am not saying ‘pity’, but compassion, mercy. You are not sneering derisively and saying ‘dude, you are going to miss strolling on the streets of gold because you are going to hell and I’m not going to pass you a tiny drop of water from my mansion up above”.
I will wrap this up with a something that happened recently. My housemates and I used to hold a general morning devotion at 5:30 am, Mondays- Fridays. I am usually the first to wake up and so I wake everybody else. About a month ago, they suddenly stopped responding. I was baffled, but I was also very angry. I wanted to call a ‘house keeping conference’ and let everybody know that apart from me, they were backsliding and allowing the devil to rejoice over us! I stopped waking them up and just continued holding my personal devotion at the time. Gradually, the Spirit of God revealed the nasty contents of my own heart on the issue. Exactly why was I angry? Is it because it was my idea in the first place? The girls were still holding devotions and nurturing their relationship with God. Who made me a judge? The issue was that the time was not convenient for them. I asked God for forgiveness and later realised that I even enjoyed having my personal quiet time. I sincerely did not feel angry any more but I continued to pray that God would help us restore the general quiet time. After some weeks, one of them said “we must start devotion tomorrow morning o”. Of course I was happy but I just said its ok. Yeah, I’m petty like that, thank you very much. It may not always work out this way but here, you see how taking your time works?
Finally, sometimes, no matter what you try, some people will still feel judged and get defensive when you correct them. But when you know that you are doing it for the sake of their soul, you know it is not your correction that will change them. It is God. So you plunge into sincere, love-inspired prayers for them for as I have heard Arome Osayi say, “People may refuse your counsel, but they can hardly refuse you prayers”-especially when it is love driven if I may add.
Bottom line: in correcting one another, let love lead, let the Holy Spirit lead.

Miss August. 

A man called Pete Maurice explains the issue of correction in details here. I copied the picture from his site

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