A “fault” is a neglect, failing, defect, error, imperfection; it can mean failure to do what is right; also, responsibility for failure or for wrongdoing. 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.”—John 18:38; 19:4, 6.
JEHOVAH’S DEALINGS WITH FAULTY MANKIND
That which Jehovah God makes is perfect, without fault, as are all his words and acts. (Deut. 32:4) For this reason, and because of his almightiness, he can say, as in correcting Job: “Should there be any contending of a faultfinder 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.—Rom. 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. (Rom. 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 considered faithful, obedient Noah as “faultless among his contemporaries” (Gen. 6:9), and commanded Abraham, “Walk before me and prove yourself faultless” (Gen. 17:1), although both these men were imperfect, and died. But they were viewed as faultless by Jehovah, who “sees what the heart is.” (1 Sam. 16:7; compare 2 Kings 20:3; 2 Chronicles 16:9.) He is “aware of the days of the faultless ones.” (Ps. 37:18) He commanded Israel: “You should prove yourself faultless with Jehovah your God.” (Deut. 18:13; 2 Sam. 22:24) He provided his faultless Son (Heb. 7:26) as a ransom sacrifice, and on this basis can call those exercising faith and obedience “righteous” or faultless, while at the same time maintaining his position as the righteous and faultless Judge.—Rom. 3:25, 26; see INTEGRITY.
THE LAW COVENANT
The apostle Paul says that the Law is “spiritual” and “fine” (Rom. 7:14; 1 Tim. 1:8) and, after discussing its tenth commandment, states that “the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” (Rom. 7:7-12) Why, then, does he also say: “If that first covenant had been faultless, 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 the people.” (Heb. 8:8, 9; compare Jeremiah 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.” (Rom. 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 if there is really sin involved. As the first step, he counseled: “If your brother commits a sin, go lay bare his fault 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.—Matt. 18:15-17; see also Galatians 6:1.
“Faultfinding” usually has the bad connotation of petty or unreasonable censure. In the Bible the practice of “faultfinding” is used in a sense comparable to “murmuring” or “complaining.”
Faultfinding can cause persons to share in wicked acts. David, unjustly harassed by King Saul and others who sought his death, prayed confidently to Jehovah: “You will provide me escape from the faultfinding of the people.” (Ps. 18:43) Faultfinding discourages and tears down. The Israelites, not long out of Egypt, murmured against Jehovah, finding fault with the leadership that he provided by his servants Moses and Aaron. (Ex. 16:2, 7) Later their complaints so discouraged Moses that he asked to die. (Num. 11:13-15) Murmuring is a deadly danger to the murmurer. Jehovah counted the things said by murmurers about Moses as actually being a rebellious complaint against His own divine leadership. (Num. 14:26-30) Many lost their lives as a result of faultfinding.
Accordingly, the Christian Greek Scriptures draw on the ancient examples to warn of the destructiveness of murmuring or complaining. (1 Cor. 10:10, 11) Jude tells of those who ‘disregard lordship and speak abusively of glorious ones,’ describing such ones as “murmurers, complainers about their lot in life, proceeding according to their own desires, and their mouths speak swelling things, while they are admiring personalities for the sake of their own benefit.”—Jude 8, 16.
Jesus condemned the faultfinding attitude when he said: “Stop judging that you may not be judged. Why, then, do you look at the straw in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the rafter in your own eye? . . . Hypocrite! First extract the rafter from your own eye, and then you will see clearly how to extract the straw from your brother’s eye.”—Matt. 7:1, 3-5; compare Romans 2:1.
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.” (2 Cor. 6:3) Men 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.”—2 Cor. 8:16-21.