Imagine my son has done something wrong and my discipline as his father is needed. So I call for him and bring him into his room. There, just between the two of us, I bring a measure of correction.
But now imagine another scenario. I call for him and bring him into the living room, and then I call his brothers and sisters and mother. There, in front of them, I not only uncover what he's done but proceed to correct and to discipline him. I humiliate him, I shame him. Worse, I correct in order to humiliate and shame him.
In the first scenario, I pull him close and into the intimacy of a loving relationship. In the second, I pull him out and down into a public shaming.
Paul writes the Corinthian Christians that as a "father" who loves and corrects his “beloved children”, he is not calling them out to shame them but calling them in to admonish them (1 Corinthians 4:14-15). He is not intent on publicly uncovering and humiliating anyone about anything. Rather, he is intent on intimately uncovering something and then in love correcting and covering it.
Love doesn't rejoice in wrongdoing anymore than in exposing the wrongdoer (1 Corinthians 13:6).
Jesus never shames a sinner, uncovering their sin in order to publicly humiliate them. In fact, he is opposed to it (John 8:1-11). Rather, Jesus always draws a sinner into the intimacy of his love, and with him sinners are convicted of their sin. We feel sorrow and shame for what is uncovered, but then we feel kindness as Jesus leads us not out in an act of condemnation but in through the gift of repentance (Romans 2:4). He welcomes, then forgives and covers our sin. Repentance is nothing if it is not the intimate call of Christ to himself.
Those bent on shaming someone for what they've done are unkind. They feel pleasure at calling out not only the wrongdoing, as right as that might be, but at calling out also the wrongdoer: they aim at their humiliation, not correction or admonishment. They use their public comments as a way to not only uncover what's been done but to strip whomever they think responsible.
They care less about understanding than they do about responding. Rather than being discerning enough to know what kind of response something requires, and rather than being patient enough to learn what a particular person’s sincere opinions, beliefs, and feelings are, they are carried away by an inability to hold back, an impotence they perceive as power, to comment to the death.
Of “the historical culture of our critics”, Nietzsche writes, “their critical pens never cease to flow, for they have lost control of them and instead of directing them are directed by them. It is precisely in this immoderation of its critical outpourings, in its lack of self-control, in that which the Romans call impotentia, that the modern personality betrays its weakness.”
The work of love is never to humiliate a wrongdoer but always to restore them. Restoration is an intimate act. Only a fool thinks that proving a leg is broken is the same as healing it. Restoration requires both gentleness and force to care for and to set right what is broken (Galatians 6:1). It requires courage towards the wrong and humility towards the wrongdoer.
“Between you and me,’ says Jesus. Not, “Between you, me, and everyone else.”