How does a Christian bring an observation of wrongdoing to another Christian? For some Christians, this is too easy a question; for others, it’s too hard. If this is an easy question, it may reveal self-righteousness, pride, anger or bitterness. Perhaps we view ourselves as better than those around us. If this is a hard question, it may reveal fear or self-pity, or doubt in God’s calling and provision. Perhaps we would rather avoid a difficult task then truly love our neighbor. Whether it tends to be an easy or a hard question, the right location for every correction is at the foot of the cross.
Bringing correction at the foot of the cross means at least four things:
First, it is a reminder that any sin we observe in others are not as significant as the sins we committed against God that required the cross. (Good counsel for the person who finds correction as easy task.)
Second, it is a reminder that sin is cosmic treason, punishable by death and Divine curse, and should not be ignored or dismissed as less important than our reputation with our Christian brother or sister. (Good counsel for the person who finds correction a task easily avoided.)
Third, it is a reminder that every sin we observe in others can be forgiven because of the blood of Christ, fully forgiven, completely forgiven.
Fourth, it is a reminder that we share with our Christian family the same union to Christ, and therefore the same hope of heaven, and the same indwelling Spirit, purchased by the same cross. Whatever they have done, they are our family member in Christ. It is our honor to be related to them in Christ, whatever they have done.
The foot of the cross is best place, truly, the only place, that Christian correction can be practiced rightly.
Much more should be said: correction should be expressing Biblical truths and not preferences, correction should be offered graciously and patiently, correction should begin with inquiries rather than statements, correction should be coupled with encouragement and expressions of hope and love, correction should normally be offered in the context of a life-giving relationship. But the place to begin the discussion of this practice is with the location of our hearts.
Are we talking with our brothers and sisters in the shadow of the cross?