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Sharing Correction


"In modern society sharing correction isn't always easy. Here are some notes on when to, how to and whom to correct. This will make correction profitable to the receiver and less painful to you!"


A web site visitor asked about how she might offer correction to someone. She wrote,

"I need help and Bible Scripture on how we should be tactful in correcting each other. When someone is doing something wrong how do we tell them? How to be tactful in correcting people. What does the Bible say?"


Below is the reply I sent (with a few helpful additions).


The answer to your question will depend very much on your relationship to the person who apparently is needing correction.

We do not always have a relationship with someone where correction from us is appropriate. On the other hand, we may have a relationship with someone where correction from us is essential. Two examples of this latter type of relationship are,

  • a parent with a child
  • a pastor with a full member of his or her church.


Here's an encouraging scripture for parents,

Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul.

Proverbs 29:17 - NKJV


Before you think about correcting someone you have to ask yourself some questions and look to the Holy Spirit for the right answers.

Here are the first two questions you should ask.

  • Does this person need some interventionary help in the way of correction from someone or is this best left through prayer to a work of God's Spirit?
  • If interventionary help is needed, am I the right person to be approaching this person about the wrong behaviour I am observing?


An encouraging promise for getting the right answers is found in James,

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

James 1:5 - NKJV


You also need to check your motivation before you embark on correcting anyone. Ask yourself,

  • Am I wanting to correct this person just to satisfy my own desire to feel I'm acting righteously by correcting him or her?
  • Or, do I genuinely want to rescue this person from wrong doing so that they do not end up suffering bad consequences?


If we are close to someone who is our peer (equal friend) and we see them heading in a wrong direction then we should not correct them in the normal way we think of correction being given.

Tactfully sharing correction with a friend means humbling ourselves and bringing ourselves down to where they are standing at present. You have to approach your friend from where you have made error. You have to share from your own experience the problems you've got yourself into when you've headed down the wrong track.


This is your introduction to suggesting to your friend that the present behaviour he or she is into may be heading them towards a whole bunch of trouble like you almost got yourself into. As a follow up to this you can ask them if they might appreciate your help in praying with them and encouraging them on to a better path.

This lesson, or sentiment, is found - again - in James,

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.

James 5:16 - NKJV


It is unwise to enter into correcting someone who does not acknowledge you as a person in whom confidence can be put. Correcting by any method should not be entered into with strangers or those who have no relationship of confidence with you. This would be a matter for prayer alone.


For those in spiritual oversight, Paul the apostle gave some good counsel on how to approach people when correction is needed. Consider these scripture in depth,

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.

Galatians 6:1 - NKJV


And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil.

2 Timothy 2:24-26 - NKJV

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