“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths,
but only such as is good for building up,
as fits the occasion,
that it may give grace to those who hear.”
So, is it ever right to correct or criticize others? Is our message only a positive one? No! There is a right time & manner to correct or criticize. However, I’m writing this as one who has all too quickly & readily been critical. Some of us exult in & love confrontation. We are excited by scenes like Elijah facing off against 450 false prophets, or Christ denouncing the Pharisees for their hypocrisy. We loudly proclaim every man a liar, and then judge them for not sticking around long enough to hear about the Savior for liars. We must beware, lest we be double-tongued, praising God while blaspheming our fellow man. (James 3.9)
The Scriptures give much instruction in the area of correction & admonition, but that is a topic for another occasion. As we study Christ & the Apostles, we see that they were gracious & respectful to all men, and reserved the strong denouncements for only those who were actively opposing the Gospel. Even in correction, our words & manner ought to be full of love, grace & compassion with the desire to win the person (2Timothy 2.24-26), and not to offend (1Corinthians 10.31-33), as ambassadors of peace (2Corinthians 5.17-21). When we fail, we should repent to God & apologize to men (e.g., Acts 23.1-5). May God make us more like Christ, who was full of truth AND grace.
God has been very gracious in teaching me how the Gospel effects what I say, and changes my orientation towards him (from enemy to loving Father) and towards other people (from enemies to beloved brothers or lost people in a pitiable condition). May God give us faith to see his good hand at work in others, and give us thankful hearts & tongues to proclaim it. And by God-centered affirmations of other sinful men, may he make us his instruments a) to encourage & bless them; b) to point them to the true source of blessing; c) to whet their appetites to hear God saying to their faces, “Well done, good & faithful servants”; and d) all of this in order that praise & thanks might redound to his glory from multiplied worshippers.
Let me encourage you to read the book Practicing Affirmation by Sam Crabtree. Most of what I’ve written here I learned from his book. I praise God for teaching these things to Mr. Crabtree & leading him to write them in a book. God has blessed me tremendously through Mr. Crabtree, and corrected me. The book goes into much more detail than I could in this short space. It is very biblical & practical, and I count it among the top few books which have been most impactful to me personally. After reading it, I wrote letters of apology & affirmation to two people of whom I’ve been hyper-critical, harsh & unthankful.
Long term Missionary to Suriname
Psalm 67 Missions Network