Friday, June 14, 2013
Fraternal Correction...it's What's for Dinner!
Someone once shared a quote after a bit of “fraternal correction” that was going on: “The purpose of religion is to control yourself, not to criticize others.” (Dalai Lama)
True to a point…but is that ALL? In other words, is the Dalai Lama saying this to the extent that we should not correct sin? I doubt it. And even if he is, are his words TRUE? I believe he shares that same view that Christ and the Apostles taught (though I may be wrong), that somewhat deeper view; one by which we not only learn to control ourselves, but cooperate with God’s grace and grow in holiness and to help our brethren to do the same. I think there are some who might read these words of the Dalai Lama and misunderstand them for a rebuke against correcting one another. I don’t think this is that is his message, and more importantly, I think we should focus on what Christ had to say (He is God after all). Msgr. Charles Pope explains, “far from forbidding the correction of the sinner [Jesus, in Lk 6:36-38] actually emphasizes the importance of correction by underscoring the importance of doing it well and with humility and integrity.” (See link below for source.) The Apostles taught it as well. In fact, there are MANY passages in Scripture that admonish us to correct our neighbor when he/she sins. For example:
“…first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Mt 7:5)
“…If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone…But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you…if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church…”(Mt 18:15-17)
“It is actually reported that there is immorality among you…Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus ...Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened….I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with immoral men…not to associate with any one who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Drive out the wicked person from among you”.” (1 Cor 5:1-13)
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any sin, you who are spiritual should recall him in a spirit of gentleness. Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:1-2)
“My brethren, if any one among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19)
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart: You shall in any case rebuke your neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him.” (Lev 19:17)
“If any one refuses to obey what we say in this letter, note that man, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not look on him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” (2 Thess 3:14)
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom.” (Col 3:16)
“And we exhort you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.” (1 Thess 5:14)
This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but I think we get the point. Correcting the sinner is an act of mercy...so much so that the Church has listed it as one of the “spiritual works or mercy” (admonish the sinner). So, regardless of what the Dalai Lama meant with that quote, and regardless of whether it was taken out of context or anything like that...at least we know what the Word of God has to say about it. And I DO believe that we can effectively correct and admonish one another in that sense of charity and patience...without “criticizing”.
For more examples and in-depth discussion on them, please visit the source I quoted from above: