One of the things that Christian people sometimes feel called to do is rebuke or chastise or confront one another. We see the faults of others oh so clearly, and so we think we might have the gift of rebuking (if there is such a gift). Or, more likely, we are burdened by the blind spots of those dear to us, whether family or friends, and so we feel it is clearly our duty to point them out. But I have news for you: it may not be your call at all.
Now I am certainly not saying that there is never a time for a rebuke. But most of the time we ought to steer clear of such ideas. What ever makes us think that we are the one to point out the faults of others? We may think that the Bible has given us the authority to do this. But not necessarily.
One of the popular verses to support the idea of confronting people over their sins is Galatians 6:1: “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”
Now there are a couple of important things to note about that verse. First of all it is concerned with people who are overtaken in a trespass. This is describing people who are in the grip of sin, not people you just don’t get along with or who bug you. Second, only spiritual people are qualified to do this job of restoration. That means the motivation should be concern about the spiritual well-being of the one overtaken. Oftentimes we feel like correcting someone because we are annoyed or offended by them. We may think we are being spiritual when in fact we are being directed entirely by the flesh. If we are really spiritual, we won’t feel at all like correcting them. When we are unspiritual, we can’t wait to let them have it.
The next point in this verse is important. It says that the spiritual person should restore the one who is overtaken in sin. This means helping them put things right. Often the one who wants to correct, who thinks he has the gift of rebuking people, just does a hit and run. But the job of restoration takes some time and commitment. It requires love and patience and humility and a spirit of gentleness.
And last of all, the one correcting needs to be very alert to his own temptations in the midst of process. This means that you approach the whole thing with much prayer and carefulness. It is not to be a slap-dash job.
Most of the time we are really not called or qualified to be rebuking anyone. We need to let love cover sins, and we need to give the Holy Spirit room to be doing the job of convicting of sin, righteousness, and judgment. We have many of our own shortcomings and faults and sins to be occupied with.
So what I am saying here, basically, is let it ride. Be careful. Don’t be hasty to point out the sins of others in a spirit of correcting. Pray over it. Tell God you are willing. And wait for a big open door. There is an obvious danger associated with this, or the apostle would not given the qualification of “being spiritual” and he would not have warned us to watch out.
Look at the next sentences (vs. 2-4): “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.”