Deal with the erring

    Quotations from the writings of Ellen G. White with the phrase . . .

                    D E A L    W I T H    t h e    e r r i n g               (  5  RELATED  PHRASES )                      

                       The  phrase  'Deal with the erring'  appears  27  times in the published writings of EGW                See page on Original site                                          Related Phrase:   How to deal with the erring  ( 11 )   see below

 In dealing with the erring, harsh measures should not be resorted to; milder means will effect far more. Make use of the milder means most perseveringly, and even if they do not succeed, wait patiently; never hurry the matter of cutting off a member from the church. Pray for him, and see if God will not move upon the heart of the erring. Discipline has been largely perverted. Those who have had very defective characters themselves have been very forward in disciplining others, and thus all discipline has been brought into contempt. Passion, prejudice, and partiality, I am sorry to say, have had abundant room for exhibition, and proper discipline has been strangely neglected. If those who deal with the erring had hearts full of the milk of human kindness, what a different spirit would prevail in our churches. May the Lord open the eyes and soften the hearts of those who have a harsh, unforgiving, unrelenting spirit toward those whom they think in error. Such men dishonor their office and dishonor God. They grieve the hearts of his children, and compel them to cry unto God in their distress. The Lord will surely hear their cry, and will judge for these things.  {RH, May 14, 1895 par. 7}

 

 
We should deal with the erring as Christ has dealt with us. He pities our weaknesses, and so we should pity the erring. He made every sacrifice to save man; we should not hesitate at any self-denial or sacrifice to save our fellow-men. Our duty is plain. If our brother trespass against us, even though he has no immediate connection with us, it is our duty to go to him alone, not with censure and bitterness, but with sorrow expressed in our words. The voice should be modulated to reach his heart, and not to arouse a spirit of combativeness. We should come as close to the erring as possible, and with a spirit of forbearance, calmness, and love for their souls, patiently tell them their faults; and, with a softened heart, bow down and pray with and for them. In nine cases out of ten, these efforts will be successful. If the erring one yields to advice and counsel, and humiliates his soul before God by humble repentance and confession, that disagreeable matter is ended, a soul saved, and the church no longer grieved and tortured.  {RH, April 15, 1880 par. 6}

 

If you think your brother has injured you, go to him in kindness and love, and you may come to an understanding and to reconciliation. When you deal with the erring, you should always keep in mind the fact that you are dealing with Christ in the person of his saints. Go to your brother whom you think in the wrong, and lovingly talk with him alone; if you succeed in settling the trouble, you have gained your brother without exposing his frailties, and the settlement between you has been the covering of a multitude of sins, from the observation of others. Others will not need to know of your difficulty, and thus be put on the alert to watch with suspicion everything the one you think at fault may do, and put a wrong construction on his motives.  {RH, February 24, 1891 par. 6}  {RH, November 7, 1912 par. 2}
 
The Saviour regards with infinite tenderness the souls whom He has purchased with His blood. They are the claim of His love. He looks upon them with unutterable longing. His heart is drawn out, not only to the best-trained and most attractive children, but to those who by inheritance and through neglect have objectionable traits of character. Many parents do not understand how much they are responsible for these traits in their children. They have not the tenderness and wisdom to deal with the erring ones whom they have made what they are. But Jesus looks upon these children with pity. He traces from cause to effect.  {MH 44.2}
 
The foundation of our hope in Christ is the fact that we recognize ourselves as sinners in need of restoration and redemption. It is because we are sinners, that we have courage to claim him as our Saviour. Then let us take heed lest we deal with the erring in a way that would say to others that we have no need of redemption. Let us not denounce, condemn, and destroy as though we were faultless. It is the work of Christ to mend, to heal, to restore. God is love, in himself, in his very essence. He makes the very best of that which appears an injury, and gives Satan no occasion for triumphing by making the worst appear, or by exposing our weaknesses to our enemies.  {RH, February 26, 1895 par. 2}
 
The foundation of our hope in Christ is the fact that we recognize ourselves as sinners in need of restoration and redemption. It is  because we are sinners that we have courage to claim Him as our Saviour. Then let us take heed lest we deal with the erring in a way that would say to others that we have no need of redemption. Let us not denounce, condemn, and destroy as though we were faultless. It is the work of Christ to mend, to heal, to restore. God is love. . . . He . . . gives Satan no occasion for triumphing by making the worst appear or by exposing our weaknesses to our enemies.  {HP 291.3}

 

The Saviour regards with infinite tenderness the souls whom He has purchased with His own blood. They are the claim of His love. He looks upon them with unutterable longing. His heart is drawn out, not only to the best-behaved children, but to those who have by inheritance objectionable traits of character. Many parents do not understand how much they are responsible for these traits in their children. They have not the tenderness and wisdom to deal with the erring ones whom they have made what they are. But Jesus looks upon these children with pity. He traces from cause to effect.  {DA 517.5}
 
  There are many who believe the truth, but their faith is not that faith which works by love and purifies the soul. At times they may speak the truth as it is in Jesus. They may be kind, and may deal with equity. They may have right ideas, and at times come to correct decisions in regard to the work. They may have ability to teach others, to educate the young, or to deal with the erring; but self is strong in them, and if in their work something arises which cuts across their plans, they place all the strength of their being on the enemy's side. They become unkind and unfeeling. They make unholy decisions, and act in a way to hurt souls nigh and afar off. They lie against the truth, while claiming to believe. Bitterness is cherished against the souls who are the purchase of the Son of God; and when, through misconception, their own spirit is brought into exercise, their unchristlike disposition manifests itself against those who are innocent. These men misrepresent Christ. By the heavenly universe as well as by men, it is seen that they have not renewed, sanctified hearts, but are coarse in disposition, unsympathetic, unkind, uncourteous, unchristlike.  {RH, April 10, 1900 par. 6}
 
In the advancement of his cause in the earth, he would have men appointed to deal with the erring who will be kind and considerate, and whose characters reveal the similitude of the divine, - men who will show the wisdom of Christ in dealing with matters that should be kept private, and who, when a work of correction and reproof must be done, will know how to keep silence before those whom it does not concern.  Unbelievers should not be given opportunity to make God's people, be they ministers or laymen, the objects of their suspicion and unrighteous judgment.--Review and Herald, November 14, 1907. {ChL 8.3}
Christ did not make himself a judge among men; but he was heaven-appointed to lay down correct principles for the rule of the human family. He appoints agencies to carry out these principles; and by him "princes decree justice." In the advancement of his cause in the earth, he would have men appointed to deal with the erring who will be kind and considerate, and whose characters reveal the similitude of the divine,--men who will show the wisdom of Christ in dealing with matters that should be kept private, and who, when a work of correction and reproof must be done, will know how to keep silence before those whom it does not concern. Unbelievers should not be given opportunity to make God's people, be they ministers or laymen, the objects of their suspicion and unrighteous judgment.  {RH, November 14, 1907 par. 4}

 

                                                 deal with the cases of the erring
In matters concerning the kingdom of Christ no compulsion or forcing of conscience is permitted. No blood is to be shed, no force of arms employed, no prison is to be opened for the incarceration of one who does not choose the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Christ will accept only of the voluntary service of the heart which has been sanctified through the truth. But if one of Christ’s followers offend, his faults are not to be opened up to unbelievers, not to be brought before earthly tribunals by his brethren. Those who are lawful and obedient are the only ones who are empowered by Christ to deal with the cases of the erring. Those who correct the erring should be divested of self, and have the mind of Christ. In every council where important decisions are made, heavenly agencies watch with intense interest. There is an unseen presence in the midst of the counselors, and the manifestation of harshness, of levity, of carelessness, of partiality, is registered as an offense against God.Self must be studiously kept under control, and not permitted to become a ruling power in these meetings of decision, or in meetings for the reproof of error, or for setting aside those who are manifestly injuring the church. { RH March 26, 1895, par. 5 }

 

                                            Qualified  to  deal  with  the  erring
With this example before them, how can the professed followers of Christ manifest so little of the tender mercy and compassion of their Lord? If there is in their number one even of perverse disposition, one who makes them trouble, how can they feel at liberty to cut him off from the church so readily, and treat him as an alien and an outcast? Let us be careful how we hurt and bruise the souls of men and women for whom Christ died. Suppose that one has erred, do not therefore thrust him into the dungeon of despair; do not pass him by with a harsh word, or with positive neglect. Let everyone who is charged with wrong have ample opportunity to explain himself, but do not bring him before a set of hard-hearted judges, who stand ready to magnify the wrong, and to pronounce condemnation. Do not take the testimony of one or two against him without thoroughly sifting that testimony. See whether the accuser is not, by his own unadvised course toward the accused, a sharer in his guilt, if guilt there be. Only those whose hearts are filled with sympathy, those who love as Christ loved, who realize the value of the precious souls for whom he paid the ransom of his own life, are qualified to deal with the erring.  {ST, March 21, 1892 par. 10}

 

                                                 those who deal with the erring
In dealing with the erring, harsh measures should not be resorted to; milder means will effect far more.  Make use of the milder means most perseveringly, and even if they do not succeed, wait patiently; never hurry the matter of cutting off a member from the church.  Pray for him, and see if God will not move upon the heart of the erring.  Discipline has been largely perverted.  Those who have had very defective characters themselves have been very forward in disciplining others, and thus all discipline has been brought into contempt.  Passion, prejudice, and partiality, I am sorry to say, have had abundant room for exhibition, and proper discipline has been strangely neglected.  If those who deal with the erring had hearts full of the milk of human kindness, what a different spirit would prevail in our churches.  May the Lord open the eyes and soften the hearts of those who have a harsh, unforgiving, unrelenting spirit toward those whom they think in error.  Such men dishonor their office and dishonor God.  They grieve the hearts of his children, and compel them to cry unto God in their distress.  The Lord will surely hear their cry, and will judge for these things.-- Review and Herald, May 14, 1895. {ChL 65.1}
 
If those who deal with the erring had hearts full of the milk of human kindness, what a different spirit would prevail in our churches! May the Lord open the eyes and soften the hearts of those who have a harsh, unforgiving, unrelenting spirit toward those whom they think in error. Such men dishonor their office and dishonor God. They grieve the hearts of His children, and compel them to cry unto Him in their distress. The Lord will surely judge for these things.  {15MR 197.3}

 

Men in positions of influence, men who have ventured to assume responsibility, are dealing with human minds in a manner wholly unlike the manner in which Jesus dealt with human minds. Their friendship does not profit but rather weakens and destroys. The manner in which they deal with the erring has been represented to me under this figure--they are like a man in a boat who sees another struggling in the waves for his life. The drowning man tries to grasp hold of the boat to save his life, but instead of reaching out a helping hand to the perishing to lift him into the boat, he reaches down to break the drowning man's grasp, and leaves him to perish in the dark hungry waters. This represents the course of many.  {21MR 179.5}

 

                                                               How  to  Deal  with  the  erring                                                          

Christ's Method of Dealing with the Erring
Too often when wrongs are committed again and again, and the wrongdoer confesses his fault, the injured one becomes weary, and thinks he has forgiven quite enough. But the Saviour has plainly told us how to deal with the erring: "If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him." Luke 17:3. Do not hold him off as unworthy of your confidence. Consider "thyself, lest thou also be tempted." Gal. 6:1.  {COL 249.1}

 

 

Section:  How to Deal with the Erring 

   Our Saviour said: "Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh! . . . Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of My Father which is in heaven. For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish."  {TM 351.1}

 

Section:  How to Deal with the Erring

   In the parable of the lost sheep is represented Christ's love for the erring, wandering ones. The shepherd who discovers that one of his sheep is missing does not look carelessly upon the flock that is safely housed, and say: "I have ninety and nine, and it will cost me too much trouble to go in search of the straying one. Let him come back, and I will open the door of the sheepfold and let him in." No; no sooner does the sheep go astray than the shepherd is filled with grief and anxiety. He counts and recounts the flock. When he is sure that one sheep is lost, he slumbers not. He leaves the ninety and nine within the fold and goes in search of the straying sheep. The darker and more tempestuous the night, and the more perilous the way, the greater is the shepherd's anxiety and the more earnest his search. He makes every effort to find that one lost sheep.  {PUR, April 10, 1902 par. 1}

November 25, 1902  How to Deal With the Erring

     In dealing with those who are in error, we are to treat them as Christ would, seeking, by a loving, unselfish interest in them, to win them to repentance. O, we need so much men who are wise in dealing with tempted souls! There are many prodigals, needing the welcome of the loving Father, not the cold repulse of the elder brother. Let us be afraid to be harsh and condemnatory. Before we speak, let us ask ourselves whether what we are about to say would be pleasing to Christ. There are angels hovering round these poor erring ones, seeking to lead them into safe paths. Let human beings keep their hands off, and give the tempted ones opportunity to recover themselves from the snare of the enemy.  {RH, November 25, 1902 par. 1}

January 26, 1911  How to Deal With the Erring

     There is need of shepherds who, under the direction of the Chief Shepherd, will seek for lost sheep. The doing of this work means the bearing of physical discomfort and the sacrifice of ease. It means showing Christlike forbearance and compassion for the erring. It means to listen to heart-breaking recitals of wrong, of degradation, of despair, and misery. The doing of this work means self-sacrifice {RH, January 26, 1911 par. 1}

 

There is really no place in heaven for these dispositions. A man with such a character will only make heaven miserable, because he himself is miserable. “Except ye be born again,” said Christ, “ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” To enter heaven, a man must have Christ formed within, the hope of glory, and take heaven with him. The Lord Jesus alone can fashion and change the character. For want of patience, kindness, forbearance, unselfishness, and love, the revealings of the traits flash forth involuntarily when off guard, and unchristian words, unchristlikeness of character burst forth sometimes to the ruin of the soul. “Rejoiceth not in iniquity.” Mark it. The apostle meant where there is a cultivation of genuine love for precious souls, it will be exhibited for those most in need of that patience which suffereth long and is kind, and will not be ready to magnify a small indiscretion or direct wrong into large unpardonable offenses, and will not make capital of others’ misdoings. The love for souls for whom Christ died will not do that which has been done through misconceptions of that which was due to the erring, exposing their errors and weakness before a whole school. How do you think Jesus has looked upon such transactions? Had He been present He would have said to those doing these things, “Ye know not the Scriptures nor the power of God.” For in the Scriptures it is plainly shown how to deal with the erring.Forbearance, kindly consideration, “Consider thyself lest thou also be tempted,” would meet the stubborn, obdurate heart. Love of Jesus will cover a multitude of sins, that they shall not prey upon the offender neither be exposed to create feelings of every stripe and character in the human breast of those to whom these errors and mistakes are laid open, and in the one thus dealt with. He is too often driven to desperation. His mind is beyond the healing. Now the work is to have the grace of Christ in the soul which will never, never be guilty of exposing another’s wrongs, unless it is a positive necessity. Practice in the line of Christ. The true witness speaks in Revelation 21:5. Practice love. There is nothing in Christianity that is capricious. { FE 279.1 } 
 
A disregard of Christ's directions as to how to deal with the erring leads to contention and strife. A desire to cast a mote out of the eye of a brother often creates a beam in the eye of the accuser, because of his neglect or refusal to work in Christ's way.  {15MR 169.2}

 

Teachers are to consider that they are not dealing with angels, but human beings with like passions as they themselves have. Characters are not formed in one mold. There is every phase of character received by children as an inheritance. The defects and the virtues in traits of character are thus revealed. Let every instructor take this into consideration. Hereditary and cultivated deformity of human character, as also beauty of character, will have to be met, and much grace cultivated in the instructor to know how to deal with the erring for their present and eternal good. Impulse, impatience, pride, selfishness, and self-esteem, if cherished, will do a great amount of evil which may thrust the soul upon Satan's battleground without wisdom to navigate his bark, but he will be in danger of being tossed about at the sport of Satan's temptations until shipwrecked. Every teacher has his own peculiar traits of character to watch lest Satan should use him as his agent to destroy souls, by his own unconsecrated traits of character.-- Lt 50, 1893. (FE 277, 278.)  {1MCP 354.3}
 

. . . It is the nicest work that was ever entered upon by the human agent, the dealing with human minds. Teachers are to consider that they are not dealing with angels, but human beings with like passions as they themselves have. Characters are not formed in one mold. There is every phase of character received by children as an inheritance. The defects and the virtues in traits of character are thus revealed. Let every instructor take this into consideration. Hereditary and cultivated deformity of human character, as also beauty of character, will have to be met, and much grace cultivated in the instructor to know how to deal with the erring for their present and eternal good. Impulse, impatience, pride, selfishness, and self-esteem, if cherished, will do a great amount of evil which may thrust the soul upon Satan's battle ground without wisdom to navigate his bark, but he will be in danger of being tossed about at the sport of Satan's temptations until shipwrecked. Every teacher has his own peculiar traits of character to watch lest Satan should use him as his agent to destroy souls, by his own unconsecrated traits of character. The only safety for teachers is to learn daily in the school of Christ, His meekness, His lowliness of heart, then self will be hid in Christ, and he will meekly wear the yoke of Christ, and consider that he is dealing with His heritage. I must state to you, that I have been shown that the best methods have not always been practiced in dealing with the errors and mistakes of students, and the result has been that souls have been imperiled and some lost. Evil tempers in the teachers, unwise movements, self-dignity have done a bad work. There is no form of vice, worldliness, or drunkenness, that will do a more baleful work upon the character, embittering the soul, and setting in train evils that overbear good, than human passions not under the control of the Spirit of God. Anger, getting touched, stirred up, will never pay. How many prodigals are kept out of the kingdom of God by the unlovely character of those who claim to be Christians. Jealousy, envy, pride, and uncharitable feelings, self-righteousness, easily provoked, thinking evil, harshness, cold, unsympathetic, these are the attributes of Satan. Teachers will meet with these things in the students' characters. It is a terrible thing to have these things to deal with; but in seeking to cast out these evils, the worker has in many instances developed similar attributes which have marred the soul of the one with whom he is dealing.  {FE 277.1}

 

There are students who are suspended from school. They are in this action thrust upon Satan's battle-ground to cope with principalities and powers without armor or defense, to become an easy prey to Satan's devices. Let me speak a word to you in the name of the Lord. When there is a proper course taken, in cases where students seem so easily led astray, there will be found no necessity for suspension or expulsion. There is a right way, and the Spirit of the Lord must move the human agent or else there will be grave mistakes made. It is the nicest work that was ever entered upon by the human agent, the dealing with human minds. Teachers are to consider that they are not dealing with angels, but with human beings who have like passions as they themselves have. Characters are not formed in one mold. Every phase of character is received by (different) children as an inheritance. The defects and the virtues in traits of character are thus revealed. Let every instructor take this into consideration. Hereditary and cultivated deformity of human character, as also beauty of character, will have to be met, and much grace cultivated in the instructor as to know how to deal with the erring for their present and eternal good. Impulse, impatience, pride, selfishness, and esteem, if cherished will do a great amount of evil which may thrust the soul upon Satan's battle-ground without the wisdom to navigate his bark, but he will be in danger of being tossed about at the sport of Satan's temptations until shipwrecked.  {SpM 143.3}
 
There is really no place in heaven for these dispositions. A man with such a character will only make heaven miserable, because he himself is miserable. "Except ye be born again," said Christ, "ye cannot enter the kingdom of heaven." To enter heaven, a man must have Christ formed within, the hope of glory, and take heaven with him. The Lord Jesus alone can fashion and change the character. For want of patience, kindness, forbearance, unselfishness, and love, the revealings of the traits flash forth involuntarily when off guard, and unchristian words, unchristlikeness of character burst forth sometimes to the ruin of the soul. "Rejoiceth not in iniquity." Mark it. The apostle meant where there is a cultivation of genuine love for precious souls, it will be exhibited for those most in need of that patience which suffereth long and is kind, and will not be ready to magnify a small indiscretion or direct wrong into large unpardonable offenses, and will not make capital of others' misdoings. The love for souls for whom Christ died will not do that which has been done through misconceptions of that which was due to the erring, exposing their errors and weakness before a whole school. How do you think Jesus has looked upon such transactions? Had He been present He would have said to those doing these things, "Ye know not the Scriptures nor the power of God." For in the Scriptures it is plainly shown how to deal with the erring. Forbearance, kindly consideration, "Consider thyself lest thou also be tempted," would meet the stubborn, obdurate heart. Love of Jesus will cover a multitude of sins, that they shall not prey upon the offender neither be exposed to create feelings of every stripe and character in the human breast of those to whom these errors and mistakes are laid open, and in the one thus dealt with. He is too often driven to desperation. His mind is beyond the healing. Now the work is to have the grace of Christ in the soul which will never, never be guilty of exposing another's wrongs, unless it is a positive necessity. Practice in the line of Christ. The true witness speaks in Rev. 21:5. Practice love. There is nothing in Christianity that is capricious.  {FE 279.1}

 

                                                           how to deal with those who are erring
The church of Christ on earth will be imperfect, but God does not destroy His church because of its imperfection. There have been and will be those who are filled with zeal not according to knowledge, who would purify the church, and uproot the tares from the midst of the wheat. But Christ has given special light as to how to deal with those who are erring, and with those who are unconverted in the church. There is to be no spasmodic, zealous, hasty action taken by church members in cutting off those they may think defective in character. Tares will appear among the wheat; but it would do more harm to weed out the tares, unless in God's appointed way, than to leave them alone. While the Lord brings into the church those who are truly converted, Satan at the same time brings persons who are not converted into its fellowship. While Christ is sowing the good seed, Satan is sowing the tares. There are two opposing influences continually exerted on the members of the church. One influence is working forthe purification of the church, and the other for the corrupting of the people of God.  {TM 46.1}
 
In your case, and those connected with you, the church has been zealously seeking to keep out these heresies. They have openly protested against them, and this has caused those in error to raise the cry, "Persecution!" The ones who dealt with these persistently inconsistent elements became excited and harsh, moved unwisely, and thus gave Satan great advantage. This is not the way to deal with the erring. The standard of truth should always be held up in the spirit of the Master. God alone is able to decide how far circumstances and personal infirmities were responsible for their accepting heresies -- whether it was a sin of ignorance, or a lack of wisdom.  {12MR 118.1}

 

                                                          Christ taught:  how to treat the erring
In a trial for murder the accused was not to be condemned on the testimony of one witness, even though circumstantial evidence might be strong against him. The Lord's direction was, "Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die." Numbers 35:30.  It was Christ who gave to Moses these directions for Israel; and when personally with His disciples on earth, as He taught them how to treat the erring, the Great Teacher repeated the lesson that one man's testimony is not to acquit or condemn. One man's views and opinions are not to settle disputed questions. In all these matters two or more are to be associated, and together they are to bear the responsibility,"that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established." Matthew 18:16.  {PP 516.1}

 

 

 

                                         Return  to  Phrases related to Discipline  page

                                         Return  to  Selected Quotations by EGW  page

Related Information

Dealing ( God deals with ) Dealing with the erring His dealings with