So I was reading some scripture today and I came across a line that struck me with some thought. I think it is common for people nowadays to recognize that people get angry when someone speaks their mind boldly. But what about in past times? In Galatians 4:16, the apostle Paul writes, “So have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (NASB). I have not looked into this point more to see why there was this feeling of hurt or whatever it may have been, but my first assumption after just reading over it once is that Paul was talking to the Church of Galatia and rebuking them on say ways they were living their life and they got angry at him for it.
Now whether you think what Paul was saying is true or not is beside the point, I thought a more relevant question to ask is if its right to correct people if you believe what they are doing is wrong. And in the same manner, if you truly believe what someone is doing is wrong or is hurting them self or others is it right not to correct them.
I’m going to try not to get on a rant about how our culture is all about tolerance and doesn’t know the meaning of tolerance. I am more trying to think through if I think it is ok to not correct someone if I believe I have the truth. That seems morally wrong to me. I think it is easy to say for an obvious extreme situation. Say someone believes it is right to sacrifice living children. I’m going to correct them very sternly. Then I start thinking of a little bit more of difficult questions. What if someone is addicted to drugs and is not harming anyone but him/herself. Is it right for me to tell them it is wrong to do drugs if that is how they find satisfaction? That I think is a little harder to answer. And the choice gets really difficult when it comes to disagreements on what is truth. Say I have a disagreement with someone about a theological subject, for example say I disagree with someone who thinks a Christian must speak in tongues to be a true believer. If we both have biblical evidence, but I strongly believe without a doubt I am right should I not try to correct them.
This last question is where it gets a little sticky, in my opinion. First, the first two examples off the top of my head I think I would try to correct the person, in a helpful way. I would not just yell at a drug addict, I’d try to explain how it is harmful and offer my help. For my last example though, I think I may refrain from trying to correct them. I’m not entirely sure though. The New Testament seems to strongly discourage arguing, “ The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged” (2 Tim. 2:24 NASB), and “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10 NASB). There are more passages that talk about arguing, but I think out of these alone I can see that there should not be divisions. At the same time though doctrine is very important, ”Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you” (1 Tim. 4:16 NASB). I think this shows that is very important to make known what you believe to be Truth, and to seek to better discover/understand Truth.
In a perfect world, I feel like it would be easy to say that no person should get mad when others disagree with his/her belief, at the same time constantly disagreeing to encourage intellectual growth among everyone. In my opinion, I think it is very wrong for people to be offended because someone disagrees with one of their opinions. In my example above about that theological disagreement, I think it would be wrong of me to not try to convince someone. But it would be equally as wrong for me not to expect them to try to convince me. I would need to be open to the idea that I could be the one who is wrong in the situation and am solely seeking to discover and further correct doctrine for both me and the other person. That is as close to a conclusion as I think I can get, but I hope anyone who reads this lets me know what you think. I did not mean this blog to be so specific to Christians. I would also ask people who are not Christian what your thoughts are about trying to encourage truth among everyone by correcting and being correcting in incorrect thinking.