“I Want to See.”
By Blind Beggar Bart
Lovingly Correcting Others
I’m writing you again to shed more light about correcting others. Your reply mentioned that correcting others may also be an act of love. How do I know that I am lovingly correcting others and not as you described as “correcting others by limiting my love, out of pride or vengeance?" – Loving Neighbor, 6/17/2010.
Dear Loving Neighbor,
I appreciate your follow-up question. My answer hopefully would further clarify how we can tell the sincerity of our hearts, not only when we correct others but also when we argue a point – in general, when we perform an act of righteousness. Our intention must be out of Christian righteousness which is always based on Christian love.
So how do we know that we sincerely love the other when we correct them? I suggest asking yourself these 2 questions: (1) Do I love the other, so much so that, if she/he is hurt, I am willing to initiate reconciliation? (2) Do I recognize that I am only God’s instrument and only He can change the other? If your answer to any of these questions is No, then it is better to avoid acting self-righteous, and let others do the correcting, or wait for the time that you will answer with a Yes to both questions.
Question (1) above may be easy to answer with a Yes for a parent correcting her/his child, because of the natural love a parent has for her/his child, but may find it difficult to answer Question (2) because of parent’s tendency to over-protect or control the child as if an owned property. On the other hand, both questions may be difficult to answer with a sincere Yes when those receiving correction are people we dislike or who have wronged us. Furthermore, I would dare say that asking these two questions also apply when dealing with subordinates at work. The dynamics or mechanics might differ, but the underlying principles remain the same. As a Christian, we are to show Jesus’ love to all, even to the people who work for us.
The act of correcting others often happens spontaneously which at times we regret after reflection. But that regret may be a sign of love that hopefully moves us to initiate a loving act, perhaps apologizing for the hurt we have caused. It must be made clear however that the apology is for the hurt – possibly for not “taming our tongue” – and not an apology for the intention to correct a wrongdoing, out of love and concern. Taming the tongue is another topic altogether but if our intention is consistently out of genuine love, our tongue will slowly but surely tame itself with God’s grace. Hence, Question (1).
As for Question (2), if we recognize that only God can change a person then we would be patient with, and kind to the people we correct. As St. Paul famously said, “Love is patient; love is kind.” And if we recognize that we are only God’s instruments then we would always seek His guidance in our every act of righteousness. For in the end, to act with Christian righteousness is to show God’s righteousness and never our own.
I have suggested the 2 questions above to help assess genuine concern and love in our hearts when we correct others; otherwise an attempt at correction may be futile and may even result to something worse. Although God eventually makes everything right for those who seek Him, the opportunity for grace at the moment of correction is missed by one, if not all, of the parties involved if the one who corrects lacks Christian maturity to answer Yes to the 2 questions. For in a true act of lovingly correcting others, everyone involved dies to himself, dies to his own pride, and grows in humility – the one being corrected realizes his wrongdoing while the one who gives the correction grows in patience and kindness.
I’m reminded of Jesus in the gospel driving the merchants out of the temple because they were making a business out of prescribed rituals. It was out of righteous anger that he did what he did to emphasize his point. He did it out of love for everyone to see and realize the wrongdoing and to convert, for the merchants not to be banished from the temple forever but to come back with humble hearts. It was his ministry to reconcile everyone, including the merchants he had driven out from the temple, back to himself – the “temple” that later rose in three days – and back to the One who sent him.
The preceding weeks saw the Church celebrate the feasts of the Body and Blood of Christ and the Sacred Heart, emphasizing Jesus offering himself up for our salvation and his merciful heart continuing to invite us to reconciliation. In our encounters with others, let us always remember that we ourselves need continuous correction from our ever merciful and loving God.
If you would like to email me and hopefully find my response in this column, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org (for now) addressed to me, or go to Contact Us of this website. Links to previous articles are found below. –BBB, 6/18/2010.
Are We Mere Spectators? (4/16/2014)
My Blindness (4/13/2014)
Spiritual Blindness (4/2/2014)
God Loves You! (3/16/2014)
That All May Be One in Repentance (3/7/2014)
No one Is, So Why Be Perfect? (3/2/2014)
Mature Love, (2/5/2014)
Let It Be Done According to Your Word: The Vanity of the Plans We Make (12/9/2013)
Our Uncontrollable Lives (4/11/2010)