Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
He has the right to criticize who has a heart to help.
Judgment is a natural human tendency. It is important, necessary for survival even. We spend our whole childhood and adolescence developing the prefrontal cortex of our brain, where decisions are made. And in the meantime, our society and families and faith groups help to protect us from bad judgments. But that same part of us that we need for choosing good friends, deciding when to cross the street, what is safe and what is dangerous, can work overtime.
We don't just judge if things are safe or not, but also if they are true, good, interesting, fun, important, disgusting, and more. Then, inevitably, we take the next step. We choose to ignore, praise, or criticize. And that's an important step. As believers, we are called to involve our faith in that judgment, to allow our understanding of Christ and the leading of the Spirit to influence our thoughts and actions. Much of scripture is dedicated to righteous thoughts and actions, the orientation of our hearts.
With social media, never has it been easier to respond to the world with criticism. And they are named appropriately. A Tweet is something a bird does mindlessly all day long and intended to be pleasant more than deeply communicative. A Yelp is an automatic sound made in response to pain. The wise words from Galatians remind us that restoring a person or responding to injustice requires a spirit of gentleness... because there is a temptation to the opposite, which is where we make a transgression ourselves. In a world where you can respond to anything in an instant, it is a spiritual practice to move slowly, to respond with gentleness and love, and to practice a pause and reflect. Pause more today. If following your tweet, comment, or post with #gentleness seems disingenuous, maybe rethink your response.