Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good. Romans 12:21 CSB
Let us come now to the means which we have to employ in order to vanquish temptations. Spiritual masters prescribe a variety of means; but the most necessary, and the safest (of which only I will here speak), is to have immediate recourse to God with all humility and confidence, saying: Incline unto my aid, O God; O Lord, make haste to help me.3 This short prayer will enable us to overcome the assaults of all the devils of hell; for God is infinitely more powerful than all of them. (1)
It is quite natural, and even spiritual, to feel sorrow and heaviness when we see the professed followers of Christ walking in the ways of the world. And our first impulse may easily be to go straight to them and upbraid them indignantly.
But such methods are seldom successful. The heat in our spirit may not be from the Holy Spirit, and if it is not then it can very well do more harm than good.…
In this as in everything else Christ is our perfect example. A prayerful, face-down meditation on the life of Christ will show us how to oppose with kindness and reprove with charity. And the power of the Holy Spirit within us will enable us to follow His blessed example.
It seems that there are two ways to deal with error, especially in the church.
The first is to ignore it, well, at least ignore it while the person is in view Sometimes this can result in the frustrations being shared with those around us, initially as, “how can we help them.” But often, that turns into a form of gossip. Both refusing to deal with it, and the gossip caused by still being frustrated, is sin.
The second way is to treat them like the enemy, to attack them with the sincere intent of eradicating the false belief. The problem here is that the person’s soul or their family’s souls suffer significant collateral damage. While our desire are sincere, our methodology, to be blunt, is sinful.
Tozer is more polite when he simply says the methods are seldom successful. But he is right; such efforts can cause far more harm than good. And we fall into this temptation, especially as we engage in social media, and we are trying to
fix those with whom we don’t have a relationship.
Before we get to correct someone, we must deal with our “need” to correct others! I think De Ligouri has the way to work through the temptation, as he advises us to call out in prayer to God. After all, if we are to be those who work for reconciliation, we need to be in contact with both parties to be reconciled. We need to remember His desire to bring them into a transformation of their mind. Which means we have to remember ours does as well.
It is then, and only then, that we can conquer evil with good. That we can proceed, guided by the Holy Spirit, to work within our relationships, and approach those in error with love, a love that they will recognize.
God’s peace to all, as we care enough to take our time and remember the presence of God, as we care for those He loves.
(1) Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Eucharist, ed. Eugene Grimm, The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus de Liguori (New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gill & Son, 1887), 450.
(2) A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).
Devotional Thought of the Day
12† Any who love knowledge want to be told when they are wrong. It is stupid to hate being corrected. Pr 12:1 GNT
Man wants to be himself the instrument by which history achieves its goal. Because he does not believe in God, he feels obliged to guide the course of history himself and, in doing so, acts as he imagines a God would act.
One of the biggest challenges in my life is discerning between intelligence and wisdom. The difference between being able to recall tons of trivial data, and actually being able to help someone else endure the challenges of life.
And as someone who has a bit of intelligence, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that knowing “it all” is
But what I have to know, well, that is a challenge. Know thyself was the cry of Socrates, a man that would run circles around the intellectuals of our day, just as he did in his own. ( Side note, I highly recommend Peter Kreeft’s series “Socrates meets ….” books that use a
To “know thyself” is a challenge, to be both the observer and the observed, to be able to judge yourself, who you are, who you really are, is challenging.
For you are more than the biological material, you are more than your gifts, abilities, sins, and weaknesses. To know those things, that is good, and yet they still do not define you. And if you focus on them as your identity, you will never allow God to correct you.
To know thyself is only possible in knowing Jesus. Then, correction is simply cutting away what isn’t you. It is freeing you to be you, a child of God, someone who dances in HIS presence.
By defining ourselves in relationship to God, we stop playing God, sitting in judgment over our lives (as well as the lives of others). We stop seeing life as we think, in all our imperfection, He sees it. We end the self-deception! What ends up defining us is God, who has made it that He sees us as holy and righteous as Jesus. Jesus, who died on the cross to free us from sin, and who rose, giving us life in this relationship with God.
Relax, know God is here, and find
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (p. 85). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
2 And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses. Hebrews 5:2 (NLT)
10 Never reprimand anyone while you feel provoked over a fault that has been committed. Wait until the next day, or even longer. Then make your remonstrance calmly and with a purified intention. You’ll gain more with an affectionate word than you ever would from three hours of quarreling. Control your temper. (1)
It is one of the most challenging parts of being a pastor or a parent, or a good friend.
It takes not only courage, but a level of love for the other person, that embraces the discomfort and the threat of rejection.
Still it is essential, it is necessary, and it can be done with gentleness and compassion. It must be done.
We have to learn to correct each other, and as the priesthood of all believers. We can’t afford not to be there for each other.
But this correcting has to be done as Hebrews describes the high priest doing it, with gentleness! Not in anger, not as a reaction to the error. But mourning over it, crying out to God in prayer for the wisdom to communicate the correction completely.
Gentleness doesn’t mean we become a pushover. The term in Greek there means a measured or precise amount of compassion. With the coolness and calmness that doesn’t come in the middle of a situation. But to take a step back, look at the cross, and remember that God desires that the other person to come to repentance. God wants them to be transformed, to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus..
That has to be the motivation for the correction. To help them, to break down the walls, and seem them benefit from the correction.
It will be challenging, they might reject you for a time, they might get angry, even if you do it as precisely as Christ woul have. Remember, they nailed Him to the cross. And that worked out all right, for that measure of compassion is so evident to see.
Walking this way through life will be a blessing to you as well. For to correct others and to allow them to correct you, takes great faith. We have to trust in God the Father to at His promises. Which means we have to walk with Him, constantly talking and listening to Him! And that is a wonderful place to be!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 185-187). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.