When was the last time you admitted your belief was wrong? I like to think there’s an art to correcting people. Everybody likes being right, and nobody likes being wrong. But if everybody always thinks they’re right, and nobody ever recognizes they’re wrong, that can make advancing the Gospel of Christ difficult. In the closing of my last post, I noted that Apostle Paul emphasized unity in the beginning of Philippians chapter 2. It was after he mentioned in the end of chapter 1 that we all partake in the suffering of Christ. The suffering of being in conflict with those who are opposed to the message of the gospel. And I closed by stating, “We suffer enough as it is in conflict with people against us promoting Christ, why should we suffer more by our own disunity?”
How we correct people
I’d suggest our disunity is often related to our failures in how we correct people, and our sometimes lack of humility in not admitting our own error. To address the first point, I’ve been writing on this blog for over 3 years now. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told I was wrong about what I wrote. And it’s amazing the level of aggressiveness people choose to correct people over the internet.
People don’t say “Excuse me, but there’s something you might have misunderstood”. More often they say, “You’re completely wrong, you have no idea what you’re talking about, you’re teaching blasphemy, etc.” I laugh at these comments because it’s funny that someone thinks they’re going to change my mind being condescending or insulting. It’s how a lot of people often try to correct people. It not only doesn’t change minds, but it only serves to strengthen the belief of the person you’re trying to correct.
Apostle Paul advised Timothy on how to correct people in opposition to the truth in this way, “24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive [i]by him to do his will.”
With gentleness. If we’re not being gentle with how we correct people, we’re disobeying God, and thus we’re sinning.
Let me give you 2 quick examples of when I was corrected by commenters on this blog. I listened to what they said, I looked at the point they were making from scripture, and I admitted I was wrong.
- Once I wrote a post on marriage and noted that there were no weddings in scripture. An astute follower of my blog pointed me to a verse that noted there was in fact a verse detailing a wedding. I looked at it, thanked her for pointing that out, and changed that line in my post.
- Years ago in the beginning of this blog I wrote a post on the devil never being an angel. While I haven’t changed my belief on that yet, there was a point I used to argue my conclusion that a commenter helped me realize through scripture that that point wasn’t valid. So I no longer hold to that point as proving the devil was never angel.
For me, it’s important to always get closer to whatever God’s truth is according to scripture, and living by it. If it means I have to change my conclusions from what I once believed, I’ll do it. No traditional church belief should ever be above what scripture states to us in context.
But this can be really hard for some people. Beliefs are often a part of our identity. When beliefs are challenged, our identity is challenged. It’s a hard thing for any of us to admit what we believed and thought we were doing as a Christian was a lie. In the time I’ve written on this blog, there’ve not been many people who changed their mind after I corrected their disagreement with my post
You have to change hearts
There have been people I’ve talked to in real life that did change their minds after thinking about what I corrected them on. So I know it’s possible to change someone’s mind about something they’re in error about. But more often than not, it’s less about changing minds, and more about changing hearts. We’re all emotional creatures. We tend to settle on a belief based on a good feeling we get about it, and then later rationalize it after the fact.
I’ve learned more over the last few years if I can give someone a good feeling in what I’m sharing with them, and show good character that reflects well on my beliefs, that opens the door for them to think about things differently. In the end they have to be moved by God and His Word to come to believe the truth. But the words we say and how we say them can make a BIG difference to whether we’re helping push someone closer to heaven, or helping push them closer to hell.
Peace in Christ.
(If you haven’t obeyed the Gospel of Christ as 2 Thessalonians 1:8 instructs, I encourage you to read Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38. Follow those instructions if you want to begin your journey of being a Christian today. May God bless you.)