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Correcting Character Defects


How should we help people who have character defects?

Quick Answer

People are not transformed by attacking their character defects. They are transformed in contemplating Christ. Thus we need to help them behold Christ.

Bible Answer

Romans 2:4 "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?"

Inspired Answer

"There are many who try to correct the life of others by attacking what they consider are wrong habits. They go to those whom they think are in error, and point out their defects. They say, “You don’t dress as you should.” They try to pick off the ornaments, or whatever seems offensive, but they do not seek to fasten the mind to the truth. Those who seek to correct others should present the attractions of Jesus. They should talk of his love and compassion, present his example and sacrifice, reveal his Spirit, and they need not touch the subject of dress at all. There is no need to make the dress question the main point of your religion. There is something richer to speak of. Talk of Christ, and when the heart is converted, everything that is out of harmony with the word of God will drop off. It is only labor in vain to pick leaves off a living tree. The leaves will reappear. The ax must be laid at the root of the tree, and then the leaves will fall off, never to return. – {ST July 1, 1889 Par. 7}

In order to teach men and women the worthlessness of earthly things, you must lead them to the living Fountain, and get them to drink of Christ, until their hearts are filled with the love of God, and Christ is in them, a well of water springing up into everlasting life. Language cannot describe the peace and fullness of the joy of the true Christian. Let us seek to drink of the Fountain of life. – {ST July 1, 1889 Par. 8}

Do not come at your brethren to pick at their faults, to make a drive at their peculiar traits of character. Educate them to better habits, and better traits, by the power of your own example. If you make it evident that you have come to correct them, you will only arouse their combativeness, and do more harm than if you had not come at all. Reveal Jesus to them, that they may behold him and become like him. If you cultivate fault-finding, and take it upon yourself to correct your brethren, you will soon have no other religion save that of picking flaws and finding defects. You cannot benefit the sinner by coming to him in your own way and in your own strength. Christ alone can save him. – {ST July 1, 1889 Par. 9}

Further Observations

I think we need to be thoroughly convinced of this before we can effectively witness. Too many of us cannot get past all the defects. We don't want to leave a person in their sins. The way to help them get beyond the defect to new life and a new character, help them find and behold Jesus.