Do you care enough about those you love to correct them? Are you thinking about times when you’ve received correction and how it was given? Correction can be good for us, if given and received in the right spirit. Hateful correction can be harmful. In fourth grade, I was in love with a handsome red head who sang with The Musical Four. One spring morning, he knocked on our classroom door and stood there holding a bunch of daffodils, with wet paper towels wrapped around them. He handed them to the boy who answered the door telling him they were for me. I can still see his smiling face as I clutched the beautiful bouquet that even FTD couldn’t match. I quickly tucked them in my desk, but not before my teacher turned tyrant. She walked to my desk and demanded my yellow flowers. She took them from my hands and threw them into the trash can, while giving a little lecture to the whole class. I will never forget how happy I was when those pretty daffodils were delivered to me and how humiliated and embarrassed I was when my teacher made this act of kindness seem silly. She thought critical correction would get her point across powerfully. Her lesson backfired. How can we respect people who condemn and criticize in a demeaning manner? Jesus surely didn’t do it that way.
The woman at the well needed correction; yet, those who knew her steered clear and made no effort to help her rise above the sinful life she lived. She was the subject of gossip and ridicule. Perhaps, that’s why she found herself all alone while drawing water from the well. Then, along came Jesus. He stopped for water to quench His thirst. Striking up a conversation with this woman with a reputation was part of His plan that would cleanse her heart and change her life. He accepted a cup of water sharing thankfulness for her kindness and generating conversation about things of interest — nice weather lately, how’s your family doing, your kindness is appreciated. Jesus knew her lifestyle but didn’t treat her like an outcast. He talked with her without being drawn into her world. She marveled at his kind heart and words of truth relating to her life. Jesus knew she needed correction, but He gave it without condemnation. Can’t you just see Jesus’ smiling face as He spoke words of correction that would change her life, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” She did go and tell the good news of this man named Jesus. What a difference it made when Jesus was willing to show humility for her act of kindness, talk with her openly when most people dared not go near her, and finally share words of correction that caused her to change her ways and win many people to Christ. How might we have handled that opportunity to correct without condemning?
Revelation 3:19 shares how we should change our minds and attitudes. Living our lives in amazement of God’s gifts and glory is wise. Staying stirred up and in awe of the power of our personal Savior serves as foundation to a strong faith and fulfilling life. Through the seasons of our lives, there will be times when we are corrected and times when we must give correction. Being wise with our words and carrying out correction with an amicable attitude is what Jesus would do. Losing tempers, stewing in silence, correcting with condemnation and hurling hateful remarks is devilish and destructive. How we handle giving advice, instruction, correcting loved ones, friends or fellow colleagues powerfully affects our relationships. We might be surprised to know the number of people who have been wounded by our words. People who have distanced themselves from us because we continually correct and criticize in the wrong spirit. Oh that we would wait on the Lord before getting on our high horses and hurting people while thinking we are helping them.
However, there are times when corrective measures must be delivered with might. Jesus’ humbleness must not be mistaken for weakness. When needed, He stood firm and corrected with power and purpose. Remember his pain when he saw the merchants making a mockery of God’s house. His rage was real; he turned over tables and stopped the buying and selling, showing the people this was unacceptable in His Father’s house. They might have been mad but deeply respected this man who came to give life everlasting. He stood tall and carried a big stick, never compromising, never backing down, never losing an opportunity to lovingly or forcefully give correction or to teach a lesson of love and forgiveness, repentance and restoration. Jesus modeled servant leadership and gave correction without condemnation. His sweet spirit settles inside when we allow Him to come into our hearts. God convicts. He cares enough to correct us. This is a sign of His love. May we accept His correction, embrace His conviction, and model His example in our own lives.