Dallas Willard’s point in The Divine Conspiracy is simple. Pay attention to the order. So, if we just start with Matthew 7 and plunge into “Do not judge or you too will be judged,” we are in trouble. If we are still dominated by anger, contempt, and lusting, and have not allowed the Kingdom to begin ruling in our hearts, what Matthew 7 says to us will be incomprehensible.
In judging the call is to abandon the deeply human practice of condemning and blaming. (Obviously, Dr. Willard reads blogs and editorial pages a lot.) If we are free from blaming, we are free to bless and guide others into the way of the Kingdom.
So, do we just not “correct” others? Of course not. Yet, we need to know HOW to bring correction. When we truly feel the weight others are feeling, there is a huge difference.
The other day I had a very intense discussion with one of my sons. Going into the conversation I had really asked the Lord to help me simply see what my son is seeing. I truly wanted to know what was going on. Once my son sensed that position in my own heart, my words, my manner, there was a opening up that was so healing that not only did HE understand the need to correct what was going on, but I was incredibly humbled as well. I could honestly feel his weight.
Correction is not about “straightening them out.” We keep hammering on wrongness and it’s not really getting anywhere. The aim is restoration. Let’s face it. We know when we’re caught. When that happens, will we, as believers in Christ, be the ones to help bring those “caught” back on the path of Jesus and keep them progressing in kingdom character?
But then Jesus talks about pigs and pearls. What in the world?
It is this (in Willard’s view): there is a season and time to bring correction. There are times people are ready to hear, and there are times they are not. There are times we have “right” things to say, but we are actually pushing it on people who are not ready to hear. The soil is hard. We may not know it, but if we keep trying long enough it becomes obvious.
Pearls are absolutely useless to pigs. They have no nutritional value.
“Often we do not even listen to them. We ‘know’ without listening. Jesus saw it going on around him all the time, as we do today. And the outcome is usually exactly the same as with the pig and the dog. Our good intentions make little difference. The needy person will finally become angry and attack us. The point is not the waste of the ‘pearl’ but that the person given the pearl is not helped.”
We do it as parents to our children. I have had that happen in my own life when I was dealing with sin and didn’t want people in my face over it. For me, when the time came for breaking, it was a chance encounter on a street with a little boy. The little boy said nothing to me, but the Spirit sure did. I broke like a dam and ran back to God.
The need for correction can be obvious. Discernment is needed as to WHEN.