A fault is a neglect, failing, defect, an error, imperfection; it can mean failure to do what is right; also, responsibility for failure or for wrongdoing. (Ex 5:16; Ps 50:20; Mt 18:15) Biblically, a fault often refers to an occasion of blame or a particular cause for disapproval.
Faultfinding. The expression “find fault” occurs in both the Hebrew and Christian Greek Scriptures. In Hebrew it renders the verb riv, meaning “contend” in a physical, verbal, or legal-judicial sense. Thus, it is rendered ‘quarrel,’ ‘contend,’ and ‘conduct a legal case’ (Ge 26:20; De 33:7; 1Sa 24:15), as well as “find fault.”—Ne 5:7; 13:11, 17, 25; Ps 103:9; see QUARREL.
The Greek word ai·tiʹa, occurring in the expression “find fault,” is also translated “cause,” “charge,” and “ground.” (Ac 13:28; 25:18; Mt 19:3) Pilate, after examining Jesus Christ on the charges brought by the Jews, found no evidence of guilt and announced to the Jews three times: “I find no fault in him.” (Joh 18:38; 19:4, 6) “Find fault” also renders the Greek memʹpho·mai, meaning “blame; lay blame.”—Ro 9:19; Heb 8:8.
Jehovah’s Dealings With Faulty Mankind. That which Jehovah God makes is perfect, faultless (Heb., ta·mimʹ, referring to something sound, perfect, faultless), as are all his words and acts. (De 32:4, ftn) For this reason and because of his almightiness, he can say, as in correcting Job: “Should there be any contending of a faultfinder [literally, one who chastises, corrects, disciplines] with the Almighty?” (Job 40:1, 2) The apostle Paul points out that God has the right to deal with his creatures as He pleases, just as a potter makes the kinds of vessels he desires to produce. God tolerates “vessels of wrath” for a purpose, just as he did Pharaoh, while he has mercy on “vessels of mercy,” and we cannot rightly question God’s action in this.—Ro 9:14-24.
On the other hand, man’s ways and productions are often faulty. Sin and error are the legacy all men have inherited from Adam. (Ro 5:12; Ps 51:5) But Jehovah, himself faultless, “well knows the formation of us, remembering that we are dust,” and is merciful. (Ps 103:13, 14) He regarded faithful, obedient Noah as “faultless among his contemporaries.” (Ge 6:9) He commanded Abraham, “Walk before me and prove yourself faultless.” (Ge 17:1) Although both these men were imperfect and died, they were viewed as faultless by Jehovah, who “sees what the heart is.” (1Sa 16:7; compare 2Ki 20:3; 2Ch 16:9.) He commanded Israel: “You should prove yourself faultless with Jehovah your God.” (De 18:13; 2Sa 22:24) He provided his faultless Son (Heb 7:26) as a ransom sacrifice, and on this basis He can call those exercising faith and obedience “righteous,” or faultless, while at the same time maintaining his position as the righteous and faultless Judge.—Ro 3:25, 26; see INTEGRITY; PERFECTION.
The Law Covenant. The apostle Paul says that the Law is “spiritual” and “fine” (Ro 7:14; 1Ti 1:8) and, after discussing its tenth commandment, states that “the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” (Ro 7:7-12) Why, then, does he also say: “If that first covenant had been faultless [or, blameless], no place would have been sought for a second”? (Heb 8:7) Paul goes on to explain: “He [Jehovah, through Jeremiah] does find fault with [or, blame] the people.” (Heb 8:8, 9; compare Jer 31:31, 32.) In another place he shows that there was an incapability on the part of the Law, while it was “weak through the flesh.” (Ro 8:3) Also, he logically demonstrates that perfection could not come through the Levitical priesthood, which, along with the law by which it operated, had to be changed; that “the Law made nothing perfect”; and that its gifts and sacrifices were “not able to make the man doing sacred service perfect as respects his conscience.”—Heb 7:11, 12, 19; 9:9.
Dealing With One Another’s Faults. The Bible counsels us to “continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely if anyone has a cause for complaint against another.” (Col 3:13) If all our faults were held against us, we would all be condemned. Many faults can be overlooked; surely a Christian should not be anxious to make public the faults of his brothers. The Scriptures say of a wicked person: “You sit and speak against your own brother, against the son of your mother you give away a fault.”—Ps 50:16, 20.
However, Jesus Christ instructed his disciples what to do in the case of certain serious sins. As the first step, he counseled: “If your brother commits a sin, go lay bare his fault [literally, “reprove him”] between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” Jesus then proceeds to outline the steps to take if this first effort fails.—Mt 18:15-17; see also Ga 6:1.
A Faultless Ministry. The apostle Paul, highly grateful and appreciative of the glorious treasure of the ministry, exercised care to glorify this ministry by watching closely every feature of his life and conduct. He said in his letter to the congregation at Corinth: “In no way are we giving any cause for stumbling, that our ministry might not be found fault with.” (2Co 6:3) Men who were challenging Paul’s apostleship had associated with the congregation there and had indulged in much faultfinding and slander against Paul in order to belittle him and to destroy his apostolic authority over the congregation. Realizing this and knowing also the danger of faultfinding and trouble where money matters are concerned, he assured the congregation that he was sending Titus and another trustworthy brother appointed by the congregations to handle the contributions. “Thus,” wrote Paul, “we are avoiding having any man find fault with us in connection with this liberal contribution to be administered by us.”—2Co 8:16-21.