Last week, I wrote about our love for each other and what that looks like or entails.
The Bible includes 35 so-called “one another” commands that are intended to guide and govern our relationships within the body of Christ. The “one another’s” range from ACCEPTING one another (Rom 15:7) to WAITING for one another (I Cor 11:33).
One of the most difficult “one another” is found in Colossians 3:16: “Admonish one another with all wisdom.”
To “admonish” means to counsel against something; to caution or warn.
Often, we are reluctant to do that. For one thing, there’s no guarantee that that the other person will receive it well. They may be offended, angry or defensive. There’s risk involved in admonishing someone.
But perhaps the real reason we don’t admonish each other is because we don’t want to meddle in somebody’s life for fear that they will meddle in ours. Ouch.
And yet, if we truly love someone, we must be willing to admonish him or her. If not, our love is out of balance and incomplete.
There are two reasons to admonish someone: First, we should warn, caution and reprove someone who is in sin or may be heading in the wrong direction. Second, we should instruct others (admonish them) with the truths of God’s Word so that they may benefit from the life and freedom that comes from obedience to His Word.
Practical Guidelines for Admonishing Someone
1. Before admonishing someone, make sure you’re not guilty of the same problem.
2. Make sure your admonition is based on Scripture, not just on your personal beliefs or opinions.
3. Pray for the person, and yourself, before you go to him.
4. Pray about the right time and place to approach the individual.
5. Approach the person privately.
6. Make sure your actions are properly motivated.
7. Admonish gently, without shaming or condemning.
8. The admonition should be clear, accurate and thorough.
9. If possible, be willing to journey with him through the process.
10. Subsequent to admonition, reassure him of your love for him.
Recently, I was speaking to a leader in the church about having each other’s back. We talked about that in the context of the criticism that each of us receives from time to time. But having each others’ back also means admonishing each other when sinning or heading in the wrong direction. That’s the kind of friend I want, don’t you?