As we continue our series on the “one anothers” of Scripture, we are reminded that God cares about how we treat one another and He instructs us on how to do it properly. This morning we shall discuss the uncomfortable yet important one another of admonition.
In Colossians 3, God speaks to us through the Apostle Paul about the importance of living a life of faith. We are told to “put to death what is earthly in you” (Col 3:5). We are told to “put on love” (Col 3:14). We are told to “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Col 3:15) and “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col 3:16). It is in this section that we are told to be “teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom” (Col 3:16).
Teaching and Admonition
Our passage this morning is clear that God expects a man/woman of faith to live a life filled with teaching and admonition. Let’s address these two areas more closely.
Biblical teaching is normally preventative. In other words, it is the regular communication of truth to help a person avoid sinful behavior. It is often truth given without a specific situation in mind, but more inclusive of all situations one might encounter. When a preacher preaches, he may know particular struggles among the congregants; but he seeks to communicate generally so that all may be helped. Teaching and preaching are by nature given to help avoid the pitfalls of life and to prepare one to think, speak, and act biblically during the trials of life.
Biblical admonition is similar to teaching in that it is the communication of truth, but it is not preemptive; it is corrective. In other words, admonition is the communication of truth to help a person correct sinful behavior. A similar word is rebuke. Biblically, when you rebuke someone you bring truth where change it needed. You confront them about their sinful behavior in order to correct and bring healthy change in their life.
Wrong Way to Admonish
You may be thinking: “Admonish, Rebuke, Confront…this doesn’t sound very fun.” In your mind you may be thinking about a red-faced, angry person screaming about how you have failed. We have been conditioned to think of confrontation as always making the situation worse, but done correctly (i.e., biblically) it should make the situation better.
Biblical admonition, rebuke, and confrontation should never be done out of anger, should never be personal, and should never be used to tear another person down.
Correct Way to Admonish
We may be convinced that admonition is necessary to our growth as Christians, but few of us would respond excitedly if someone invited you to lunch in order to rebuke you. Most likely you would find a reason not to attend. While we may not relish admonition, rebuke, and confrontation our prayer is that we would not resist it because it is good for our souls. Let’s look at the correct ways to admonish one another:
First, admonish in love. John Maxwell once wrote, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” If someone is not convinced that you love them, they will not listen to what you have to say. Everything we say must be filtered through love and compassion. We need to examine our hearts before addressing someone else’s. We need to notice the log that is in our own eye before helping with the speck in our brother’s eye (Matt 7:3).
Second, admonish in wisdom. Paul wrote, “admonish one another in all wisdom” (Col 3:16). This wisdom comes in the form of knowing what merits confrontation and what does not. This wisdom comes from God and is available to us when we ask (James 1:5). This wisdom is sought as we “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Col 3:15) and “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col 3:16).
Admonishing in wisdom is vital because we must make sure that we represent God faithfully in our confrontation. We are not calling people to give an account to us for failing to meet our desires. Rather, we are calling people to give an account to God for sinning against Him. We do not want people to deal with us, but the Lord and we love them enough to show them the wisdom of confessing their sins.
Third, admonish redemptively. The goal of all admonition, rebuke, and confrontation must be spiritual growth and Christ-likeness. Paul wrote in Colossians 1:28, “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.” We do not wish to tear a person down and make them feel condemned. We wish to build people up and help them grow as a Christian into maturity.
While admonition, rebuke, and confrontation may make us uncomfortable, my prayer is that the Holy Spirit reveals to us that it is good and necessary. Every one of us needs to grow spiritually and every one of us needs help to grow spiritually. Let us pray and seek God’s help as we seek to help one another become mature in the faith