Posted by: chuckbumgardner | April 28, 2008

Augustine on Galatians 6:1, part 2

(continued from the previous post here)

So we should never undertake the task of rebuking another’s sin without first examining our own conscience by inner questioning and then responding–unequivocally before God–that we are acting out of love. But if the one you are criticizing hurts your feelings by verbally abusing you or threatening you or even persecuting you, yet still seems capable of being healed by you, you should not respond in any way until you are healed first, lest perhaps your carnal emotions lead you to consent to doing harm and you present your tongue to sin as a weapon of injustice for repaying evil for evil or insult for insult. For when your feelings are hurt whatever you say will be an expression of violent retaliation and not of loving correction.

Love, and say what you like: in no way will what sounds like an insult really be an insult if you keep clearly in mind that your intention in using the sword of God’s word is to liberate the person from the siege of vices. But if by chance (as so often happens) you undertake such an action out of love and approach it with a loving heart but because you encounter resistance something insinuates itself, distracting your attention from the vice to be struck down and making you hostile to the person himself, then afterwards, as you wash away this kind of dust with tears, it will be necessary and really very helpful for you to remember that we should not proudly scorn the sins of others, since in the very act of rebuking them we ourselves sin when we find it easier to respond to the sinner’s anger with our own anger than to the sinner’s misery with our mercy.

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