Lucia's Blog: CORRECTION
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

CORRECTION

The one who follows instruction is on the path to life,
but the one who rejects correction goes astray. 
Proverbs 10:17


I try to be meek because Jesus said that they shall be blessed, but it is still upsetting when someone tells me that I am wrong about something. I might ignore the counsel thinking that it is just being picky or extreme. I might even get defensive. They threw Jeremiah into a pit because of his unpopular message. Paul was stoned and left for dead. However, I want to go to heaven, and even if the brother's manner was harsh and unloving, he might be right, and his counsel might save my soul from serious error. No matter how many years we have been serving the Lord and studying His Word, we can still be deceived by our own ignorance of certain truths. The problem is that in time we think we already know it all or at least all that matters and in our pride resent the charge that we are wrong about something. Let's hear that word again, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth."  I need this as much as anybody. Let's think together about the challenge of receiving and giving correction. So much of our future depends on our attitudes toward, "reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all long-suffering."

No one enjoys receiving correction.  To receive correction is no "piece of cake."  No one wants to be wrong.  Do you?  You probably don't. It does not matter who we are (rich, poor, educated, a mature Christian or a babe in Christ), we all need to be corrected sometimes.  Who doesn’t?  We all do! Why?  Because often we find ourselves committing sin and falling short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:23).  Sometimes, wisdom comes in the form of correction.  Sadly, many never seek it and when someone offers “friendly correction,” they don't receive it well.  However, it is vital for us to accept correction when we find ourselves doing wrong.  We cannot grow without it!  As Christians, we are compelled both to receive and offer correction.  Of course, we must be cautious as to how we approach it.  The Bible (especially in the book of Proverbs) stresses the importance of receiving correction.  The Proverbs call it wisdom.  One who is wise will accept correction to discern or gain knowledge, understanding and honor, (Proverbs 19:25; 15:32; 15:31; 13:18).  On the other hand, one who hates correction and rejects it, “is stupid,” "brutish" (12:1), “goes astray” (10:17), “despises himself” (15:32), will have “poverty and shame” (13:18) and “will die” (15:10).  What a contrast!

Humility plays a vital role in correction.  It is the key ingredient to growing in wisdom, (Proverbs 11:2).  “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.”  (Proverbs 9:8-9).  Pride (arrogance, insolence) is the opposite of humility. And when one lacks humility, pride reigns, making it difficult to receive and learn wisdom and understanding.  Because of pride, many shield themselves and are not approachable, (Proverbs 13:10).  It renders them weak and hard of heart, and thus slow to listen to wise counsel.  They quickly give in to their defensive thoughts, emotions, and words.  They allow their emotions (anger, resentment, bitterness) to control them, making it hard for them to respond positively to advice or correction.  For the most part, the way one responds to correction is usually an indicator of how proud he is. It is a good barometer for the pride he has in his life.

So, if a prideful “red flag” goes up when someone corrects you, then it is time to go in prayer to God Almighty for humility.  To receive correction well is a genuine test of our faith and love for Christ and His church.  Of course, we prefer words of approval, praise, or even flattery.  The Word of God gives us much warning about such words, (Proverbs 28:23; 29:5; Acts 12:21-22; 1 Thess. 2:5-6).

We need to keep in mind that it is no “piece of cake” for the one who has to correct his brother either.  So instead of getting defensive, allowing your emotions to cause you to stumble, why not listen carefully and humbly accept it and change your ways?  Why not realize that those who are correcting you are just doing it to help you keep on the right path?  Why not consider it a blessing that you have someone who cares enough for you to show the courage necessary to point out your flaws, shortcomings or the sins in your life that you might walk in righteousness and holiness? We all need correction!  We must accept it and embrace it.  It will help us stay strong and sound. There is no other way to heaven.  Heaven is worth it all!! 


I.    THE BLESSINGS OF CORRECTION:
  • For Change, Growth, and Maturity:
To grow, we must bear the word of exhortation, (Heb. 13:22).  We must amend all our flaws, faults, and shortcomings.  We must make up what is deficient in ourselves.  The process of regeneration is merely the correction of ideas, evil practices, and habits, while also accepting the practice of that which is correct and righteous.  Indeed, it is a constant and exhausting battle to rule the flesh completely.  It is a fight that will last until we lay down our burdens at Jesus’ feet.

The Word of God exhorts us repeatedly that we should grow by constant effort so that we might not fall away, (Heb. 5:12-14; 6:4).  We must grow in the Grace and Knowledge of our Lord and Savior, that we may bear the fruits of righteousness, (2 Peter 1:5-9; 3:18).

Other Scriptures stress that we must grow to perfection (maturity).  The source of all correction is the Word of God that dictates how we ought to live to be found faithful and righteous before Him. That is why Paul instructed Timothy:
“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”  (2 Timothy 4:2).
In Romans 12:2, the apostle Paul wrote, 
“2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  
Are you diligently seeking to be transformed by the renewing of your mind?  It will require learning, knowledge, and change.  In 2 Peter 3:18, the apostle Peter admonishes us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity.”  Are you eagerly seeking this kind of spiritual growth in your life?  Well, this inner change will demand considerable involvement from us.  It will demand obedience, holiness, effort, fear, trembling and sanctification through God's Word. (Phil. 2:12-13).  God's Word helps us to grow into the likeness of Christ.  Without feeding on God's Word, we cannot grow spiritually.  (1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18; Matt. 4:4), Eph. 4:15; Matt. 5:6).  God has equipped us with every good thing, so that we may do His will and be pleasing in His sight, through our Lord and Savior, (Hebrews 13:21).  

However, personal growth is not just through personal effort, but also through the personal giving and receiving of truth with others.  We cannot afford to neglect this because if we do, our souls will be in danger.  Why do I say that?  Because God has commanded us to share His Truth with others that they may grow.  Consider Paul's admonitions:  “14 And I myself also am persuaded of you, my brethren, that ye yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another."   (Romans 15:14).  The word “admonish” here is from the Greek "noutheto," meaning “to put in mind (from “nouthethes” and this from nous (mind) and “tithemi” (to place).”  It could be translated as admonish, warn, instruct or train.  Thus, giving admonishment to others is vital to their spiritual growth and maturity.  Moreover, receiving admonishment is essential to our own spiritual growth and maturity. 


II.    HOW TO GIVE AND RECEIVE CORRECTION, ADMONISHMENT:
  • Giving Correction to Others:  
The Word of God must be the measure or standard for teaching another what is right or wrong.  It must be used to admonish the one who is not behaving according to the will of God.  It must also be used to restore the one who is not walking upright, that he may walk the right way according to God's Word.  Finally, the Word of God must train everyone in the way of righteousness that they may be equipped for every good work.  We must accept correction, admonition that we might repent and correct what is wrong.  Likewise, it is crucial that we welcome the admonisher openly lest we be deceived and remain in sin.

We must correct others in a thoughtful manner, tell the Truth in love and concern for the soul of the other person.  The goal is to help them change, encouraging them that they might repent or correct their belief and behavior.  In Hebrews 3:13 we are told to "encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin."  The word “encourage” is from the Greek "parakaleite,"  meaning “to call on, entreat and also to admonish, exhort, to urge one to pursue some course of conduct (always prospective, looking to the future, in contrast to the meaning to comfort, which retrospective, having to do with trial experienced).” 

Paul often admonished others and even rebuked them if necessary.  “14 And we exhort you, brethren, admonish the disorderly, encourage the faint-hearted, support the weak, be longsuffering toward all.”  (1 Thess. 5:14).  Our admonishing, correcting and encouraging must be done with a patient and kind attitude.  However, sometimes the disobedient and false teachers are obstinate. Paul says they need to be confronted with severity.  He states, “For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers... They must be silenced since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach... Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.”  (Titus 1:10,11,13).  And while it is true that some who are not stubborn are to be confronted with gentleness, there are some like these men that cannot be reached without rebuke or sharp reproof.

Destructive criticism is the kind of correction that we must avoid.  Why?  Because it is not edifying, but rather it is destructive to one's soul.  The one that gives that sort of correction can never see good in anything or anyone.  They are the fault finders. They have an evil and sinful habit that causes many to dread being around them!  They cause division among brethren and provoke them to fight against each other.  That is why Paul warned the church at Rome about divisive brethren. Notice what he said, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them that are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which ye learned: and turn away from them.”  (Romans 16:17).  Not only can destructive criticism divide a church, but it can ruin relationships and the respect they have for each other.  This kind of destructive correction must be avoided at all cost!

On the other hand, constructive criticism is good.  It grows out of love and seeks the well-being of the other.  It is the type of correction we want others to offer us if we are at fault.  In Matthew 10:16, Jesus said, “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”  When we approach and correct others with the right attitude, they might respect us.  Sadly, they don’t most of the time. Many times, the one who is wrong “bites us,” when we bring up their wrongdoing or sin.  Indeed, correcting one another is very uncomfortable, but it can also be very rewarding if they listen. 
  • The Value of Receiving Correction From Others:
Not only are we to share the Truth with others, but we must value it as well.  One of the greatest ways to express your love for me is to point out my sin, my need for repentance and the importance of change.  The Word of God counsels us saying, Better is open rebuke than hidden love. 6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend.”  (Prov. 27:5-6).  How often do we ignore this fundamental truth?  It is one thing for someone to say he's my friend and that he loves me.  It is another thing for that person to show me his love by correcting me when he finds some fault or wrongdoing in my life! According to this passage, such a friend might wound us indeed, but he is faithful as he is showing his love by doing this deed!  You see, open rebuke allows us the chance to reflect on our faith and the course we are walking. On the other hand, hidden love sees or perceives but fails to communicate the need for correction.  The wounds of a genuine friend are meant to cut to the heart for the good of that person.  It is wise to highly value a friend's willingness to point out our errors and failings. “Whoever rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue.”  (Prov. 28:23).  If we indeed value Truth and genuinely desire to change in holiness and godliness, then we will certainly crave this correction more than false friendship that flatters us with hypocrisy.

From Genesis to Revelation, God specifically emphasizes the importance of receiving admonishment and correction from others.  Moreover, He stresses the need of giving correction for their good.  In the Garden of Eden, God confronted Adam and Even with their sin (Genesis 3:88ff). He was using correction here because it was needed.  After Cain killed Abel, his brother, God likewise confronted Cain and made him accountable for killing his brother.  And though God rebuked him for his crime, Cain did not repent (4:5ff).  In the New Testament, John the Baptizer rebuked Herod saying, “It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife.”  (Mark 6:18).  Herod refused to repent and had John killed (verses 26-29).  Jesus rebuked Peter because he had become an offense to Jesus since he was tempting Him not to fulfill the purpose which He came to accomplish here on earth ("For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost").  (Luke 19:10).  Peter did not comprehend God's will entirely because he was being misguided by his own judgment and carnal emotions.  After Jesus' resurrection, He walked with two disciples to Emmaus and said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”  (Luke 24:25).  You see Jesus needed to rebuke, reprove and correct them about God's plan.  

Ecclesiastes 7:5 is another passage that instructs us about receiving admonition.  “It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools.”  So, do you think we should welcome rebuke from a brother or sister when we really need it?  Yes!  It is the only way to correct wrong behavior, grow spiritually and do God's will.  It is the only way to grow in the wisdom of God, (Prov. 15:31).  It is vital that we have an open heart to welcome reproof and correction, so that we may grow in the knowledge of Christ as faithful followers of His. (Prov. 12:1).  On the other hand, it is foolish to refuse correction or rebuke.  It expresses ignorance and pride!
  • The Right Attitudes in Giving and Receiving Correction or Admonishment:
Inner attitude is crucial here.  The Lord wants us to admonish one another with pure motives and a sincere heart.  Notice what the Scriptures have to say about the way we are to admonish one another.
    • Spirituality and Gentleness: 
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.”  (Gal. 6:1).
    • Kindness, Patience, and Gentleness:
“24 And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.”  (2 Tim. 2:24-25).
    • Sincerity and Without Hypocrisy:
“5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.”  (Matt. 7:5).
    • Love:
“Better is open rebuke than hidden love.”  (Prov. 27:5).
    • Spirit of Love and Gentleness:
“21 What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?”  (1 Cor. 4:21).
    • Brotherliness:
“15And yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”  (2 Thess. 3:15).
    • Righteousness:
Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.  (Psalm 141:5).

Undoubtedly, according to the Scriptures mentioned above, it is vital that we admonish and correct one another with the right spirit or attitude to please God.
  • Being Open to Correction and Change:
Since God often uses others to show us our faults and shortcomings, let us from an open heart, welcome it for our good and never refuse correction; never reject someone's correction or reproof. Let us take it well with a humble and meek heart even when it seems to be harsh or unkind criticism. It may surprise you what you can learn of value even from a rebuke that appears to be unjust and unfair.  It requires a humble heart that is open, to receive correction!  Correction helps to improve our walk with the Lord, and it makes us much better persons to the glory of God.  Why not learn to accept correction from those who have better knowledge of the Truth and want to share it with us for our own good?   Therefore, let us learn to be wise and welcome counsel and admonition! “Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.”  (Psalm 141:5).  If correction is going to make me a better Christian and help me grow, then let the righteous strike or smite me and reprove me!!  The blows and rebukes of the righteous are real kindness!!   “A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.”  (Prov. 17:10).  May our Lord give us the understanding to receive rebuke so that our souls may prosper and grow.  
    • Responding to Rebuke or Admonition:
We have the choice of responding to rebuke or admonition in two ways:
Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.”  (Prov. 15:32).  
According to this Scripture, there are two kinds of listeners:  one who ignores correction and one who listens to it. There is a great blessing in being open to instruction and correction.  Strike a scoffer, and the simple will learn prudence; reprove a man of understanding, and he will gain knowledge.”  (Prov. 19:25).  You see, the simple learns by listening to instruction thus becoming wiser while the scoffer refuses to heed and learn at all.  The Christian who sincerely values God's Word will find opportunities to learn and change from other sources.  The key to wisdom is to always be open to God's will that comes to us through the counsel of the righteous, the wise.  Notice what James says about godly wisdom, 
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”  (James 3:17).  
There must be a will to yield, being open to reason; being teachable, compliant, easily persuaded, and willing to submit to soldierly discipline and moral standards.  God's wisdom leads us to a teachable spirit.  On the other hand, when one has worldly wisdom, one quickly resists reproof and correction, refusing to be persuaded to change when he is wrong.  When one values Truth, then both the corrector and the one corrected will benefit and allow the Truth to prevail.  Only those who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness will accept every opportunity or open the door to counsel and instruction, (Matt. 5:6).  When one values God's righteousness, he is willing to endure whatever reproof, rebuke, admonishment or correction that's needed.  It is vital that we respond to God's Truth the same way that the noble-minded Bereans did.  When Paul proclaimed the message of salvation to them, they received it with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures to see whether these things were so, (Acts 17:11).  And though this Scripture is speaking of salvation itself, it is true that the same principle must be applied to any Bible Truth that someone may present to us.  So, do you receive the Word of Truth with great eagerness when someone presents it to you?  Are you open to the Truth?  Do you examine the Truth to determine whether the truth they bring to you is actually true?  In Proverbs 9:7-10, there are two likely responses to correction.  
Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. 8 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you.  Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.  10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”

Now, notice that the scoffers choose to insult the one who corrects him. They dishonor the reprover as well as hate him.  Instead of being grateful for being admonished and not have to suffer harm.  Have you noticed how many react to correction with insults and hatred (about any sin, compromising behavior, attitudes, wrong view) even when it is offered in the spirit of love and kindness?  Some even have the audacity to silence us harshly, refusing to speak at all.  Some choose to withdraw from us, refusing all contact with us.  Others are unwilling to admit their errors or faults, that they're wrong and claim to be deeply hurt.  Instead of strengthening the relationship, the one offended chooses to reject us at all cost, remaining stubbornly in his error and sin.  On the contrary, the godly and righteous person values knowledge and is open to change.  He will love us when he is corrected!  He acknowledges God's will and ways.  So instead of hating the admonisher (as the scoffer did), the wise and righteous will love the admonisher for he can learn, grow, change and understand God's will better.  (Prov. 9:9).  The righteous and wise craves for more knowledge and understanding.  He is open to reproof and correction.

Giving and receiving godly advice is one of the most important tests of our faith and love for the Lord.  It is crucial.  How we respond to counsel will reveal who we are!  We must remove pride to accept instruction and counsel.  If pride is your problem, you must pray to God for wisdom that you might not allow it to master you.  Remember pride can hurt you and can lead you to death.  The foolish is always stubborn and is always right in his own eyes.  On the other hand, the wise listens to advice or rebuke and gains knowledge or wisdom.  Likewise, the wise seeks advice and succeeds, (Proverbs 15:22).  Those who refuse correction are stubborn and fail to see their shortcomings.  They often resent or even hate the one who is correcting them.  They refuse to acknowledge that someone cares enough about them to help them out of their sins or failures.  We must choose to be thankful for them, knowing that they care enough to help us go to heaven.  Be receptive to their words that can save us.  Don't despise correction for that is God's will for us that we may grow and be better than we are today.  God wants us to be transformed into His image from glory to glory.  But this transformation requires knowledge and change.  Are you willing to welcome that transformation?  If you are, then you must be willing to receive correction, advice, and rebuke.  
  • Why We Should Value Correction:
As those who have the desire to do God's will, we must earnestly desire the sincere correction of others (especially the righteous) toward us.  It is seldom given and received.  Often, we prefer to gossip and slander one another instead of privately approaching him with a loving and kind attitude to point out his errors and failings.  If you have a friend who is willing to do this from a sincere heart, then you are rich indeed.  Consider some of the blessings that come through sincere correction.
  1. We discover our blind spots or failings. 
  2. We gain wisdom and understanding from the righteous who love Truth.
  3. We awaken from our apathy and carelessness.
  4. We are encouraged to look at our circumstances in life from a different and more righteous perspective.
  5. We see and change those faults that we so often overlook.
  6. We are encouraged to greater love and good works.
  7. We are encouraged to examine our heart more carefully.
  8. We are encouraged to be more Christ-like.
  9. We are encouraged not to be deceived and hardened by sin, (Heb. 3:12-14). 

Not only do we benefit from the correction that others offer us, but the correction that we offer to others may be life giving, (Jer. 17:9; Prov. 28:26).

    • The Consequences of Rejecting Correction:
  1. "And you say, “How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof!  13 I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors.  14 I am at the brink of utter ruin in the assembled congregation.” (Proverbs 5:12-14).
  2. "Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored."  (Proverbs13:18).
  3. "The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise.  32 Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.  33 The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor."  (Proverbs 15:31-33).
  4. "Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded, 25 because you have ignored all my counsel and would have none of my reproof, 26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you, 27 when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.  28 Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently but will not find me.  29 Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, 30 would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, 31 therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices.  32 For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; 33 but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” (Proverbs 1:24-33).
  5. "He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing."  (Proverbs 29:1).

III.    EXAMPLES OF REPROOF AND CORRECTION IN THE BIBLE:
  1. Samuel the prophet rebuked Saul, the king, (1 Samuel 13:13).
  2. Nathan, the prophet rebuked David, the king when he committed adultery with Bathsheba, (2 Samuel 12:7-9).
  3. Elijah rebuked Ahab the king, (1 Kings 21:20).
  4. Elisha rebuked Gehazi his servant, (2 Kings 5:26-27).
  5. Hanani, the seer, rebuked Asa the king, (2 Chronicles 16:7-9).
  6. Zechariah rebuked the people of Israel, (2 Chronicles 24:20).
  7. John the Baptizer rebuked the Pharisees and Sadducees, (Matthew 3:7).
  8. John the Baptizer rebuked Herod the king, (Mark 6:18).
  9. Jesus rebuked the rich young ruler, (Mark 10:17-22).
  10. Jesus rebuked Peter, (Matt. 16:21-23).
  11. The repentant crucified robber rebuked the other sinful thief, (Luke 23:40).
  12. Peter rebuked Ananias, (Acts 5:3ff).
  13. Peter rebuked Simon the magician, (Acts 8:20-23).
  14. Paul rebuked Elymas the magician, (Acts 13:10).
  15. Paul and Barnabas rebuked the Jews of Antioch, (Acts 13:46).
  16. Paul rebuked Peter, (Galatians 2:11-14).
  17. Jesus rebuked all the apostles, (Mark 16:14).
These are just a few examples of those who needed reproof and correction in the Bible.  God expects us to correct others when there is sin, and they are not walking in righteousness.  Likewise, God expects others to correct us when we are not walking upright.   Since God loves us, He points out the faults, shortcomings, and sins in our walk with Him through His Word.


IV.     QUESTIONS ABOUT REPROOF AND CORRECTION:

The following are a few things to consider when applying Bible principles to reproof and correction.
  • How can I correct another person since I'm not perfect?
God does not expect us to be sinless before we consider sharing the Truth with another person.  He wants us to be upright.  Christ commanded us not to use unrighteous judgment when we, ourselves, are guilty of wrongdoings.  Jesus said, “5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”  (Matt. 7:5; cf. vv. 1-4).  They key here is to remove our obvious sins, so that we can freely correct another.
  • How can I know enough to point out another person's sins when I know so little about the Bible?
Though many are not mature Bible students, that does not justify not knowing what the Bible says. For example, one may not know all there is to know about the teachings of Christ, but we may certainly know what Jesus said about divorce, remarriage, and adultery, (Matt. 19:9).  We indeed know enough to share this Truth with someone who is considering such a step of divorcing his wife, except for fornication and marries another person, committing adultery.  Of course, this must be dealt with care and wisdom.
  • How can I reprove or correct a person who I'm not sure has actually sinned?
Well, this must be done with caution and careful examination.  Ask the person about a particular moral area in his life in which he is failing.  Kindly, gently and lovingly approach him with an open mind, believing the best that you can, until you find out the truth of the matter.
  • How do I correct an unbeliever?
Though the unbeliever may not have much motivation to repent and change, there are many times when we must reprove or correct him especially if they're family members, friends, or co-workers. There's no guarantee they will listen.  Yet love ought to motivate us to do our best under such circumstances and limitations.
  • What is the difference between correcting a Christian and an unbeliever?
Within the body of Christ, we have the duty to correct according to the Scriptures.  Jesus said that we should approach a brother who sins and tell him his faults in private.  If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.”  (Matt. 18:15). The Lord has told us plainly what to do if a brother refuses to repent, (verses 16-20).  It is impossible to implement this type of procedure when an unbeliever is the offender.
  • What is the righteous attitude of forgiveness when we rebuke a Christian?
Jesus commanded us to forgive others.  “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. 4 And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”  (Luke 17:3-4).  It is vital that we have a sincere attitude of forgiveness when approaching such a brother since God has forgiven us in Christ, (Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13).
  • How can I prevent the other person from reacting to my correction rather than responding with an open and positive heart?
Now, this is one of the hardest issues.  That's why we must make sure our motives and attitudes are pure, with love, gentleness, and kindness, so that the one who is rebuked will respond in humility and repentance which is our goal.  It is sometimes good to admit to him our faults or failures that we had to correct, so as to humbly establish common ground.
  • What basic principles can I keep in mind when offering a sincere correction to one whom we've caught in sin?
When one lives his life in the fear of God, his whole life will be lived in reverence before God.  When we live our lives to walk in righteousness to please our God, confrontation is more likely possible and desirable.  When the righteous acknowledges that he's guilty of sin, he longs to do the will of God and will receive and heed correction with a humble heart.  We will see a need to correct others as well. Notice what Paul declared, “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. (2 Cor. 5:11l cf. Heb. 10:31).
  • What can I do when my attempts to correct another fail?
When a child of God tries to share the Truth with someone who has little interest in hearing and changing, he feels helpless and hopeless.  It is a dilemma that all saints have to face.  If for some reason, we feel that Matthew 18:15-20 is applicable, then we must express our sincere concern about that person's sin, attitude, sinful words, or sinful behavior, trying to plead with him to open his heart to the Truth and to forsake (abandon, leave, quit, yield) his sin, (Proverbs 28:13).  When we have done our duty, we can commit the matter to our Father in heaven in prayer, asking Him to open his heart so that he can see his sin and the need to change that he might save his soul.
  • How can I practice correction with family members and friends?
If all the parties involved are true Christians, this simplifies the matter considerably.  The corrector can appeal to God's Word to solve the offense.  He may present the case to a trusted and mature elder of the church to mediate a settlement.  Now, if the offender is a fallen child of God, the problem can be more difficult.  Some may respond to the Word of God if they still revere it, others may not.  It all depends on whether they want to heed the correction and do the will of God.
  • What's the right approach in matters of opinion and doctrine?
When it comes to matters of opinion, we can respect a person's opinion and be willing to hear them out.  It does not mean that we have to change what we are doing.  Now when it comes to worship service, one might say we should sing 5 songs, have 3 prayers, and have the Lord's Supper last. Though we might do these acts in exactly that order, again they're simply matters of opinions.  It does not matter what order as long as we sing, pray and partake of the Lord's Supper.  Matters of opinion are not something we need to conform to.  However, when it comes to matters of doctrine (that is the teachings of Christ in the New Testament, His Law), it is vital that we take heed to changes.  We must humbly change our ways if they're not in accord with the will of God.  We cannot afford to be stiff-necked like the Pharisees of Jesus' day.  Instead, we must follow the example of Apollos when Aquila and Priscilla approached him in Acts 18:24-28.

When Aquila and Priscilla heard Apollos preaching the message of John's baptism but not that of Jesus, they didn't try to harshly interrupt his preaching, or ridicule and humiliate him before his audience.  They instead took him aside and explained to him what he was missing and not teaching. Nowhere do we hear him arguing with Aquila and Priscilla or saying, “Who do you think you are, trying to teach me something else?  Instead, Apollos humbly accepted the correction and even welcomed it.  After he was taught more accurately, we see him refuting the Jews publicly about Jesus from the Scriptures.  That's why it is vital to show others who are in error what the Bible says about any particular sin.  It crucial that we teach the Truth so that the other person can heed God's Word to make the necessary changes.  Like Apollos, some are not aware that they're doing wrong or that they are teaching error, but like Priscilla and Aquila, we must correct them gently with love, that they be willing to change their ways and grow in the knowledge of Christ.

Though Apollos' correction was done privately, there are times when correction must be done publicly with confrontation.  Many times, the person who is sinning knows better and yet is causing others to stumble.  One example of this is found in Galatians 2:11-14 when Paul had to confront Peter publicly because he was causing others to stumble and sin.  
“11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” 
Peter should've known better not to play favorites and compromise, but he did it anyway.  Paul confronted him in public. His sin was public, so he needed to be rebuked publicly.  Peter was not only an apostle but also an elder in the church who was causing other Christians to sin as well, so he needed to be corrected in public.  In 1 Timothy 5:19, Paul says, 19 Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses.”

So Paul declares that if an elder is guilty of any sinful behavior that has been confirmed by 2 or 3 witnesses, then he is to be rebuked in the presence of all so that everyone will fear.  Why?  Because it is necessary that the brethren see that even an elder, a leader in the church, must receive discipline and that no one is excluded from it.  So often when a leader in the church is sinning, he is causing others to sin (stumbling block) as they follow his poor leadership.  Therefore, discipline and public correction are vital to saving his soul and the souls of the other brethren.  Take heed!!

One thing that caught my attention about Peter is that he did not pull Paul aside and rebuke him for correcting him.  There's no indication at all that Peter denied or argued with Paul about the matter. Peter knew he was wrong and should've known better.  He humbly accepted the rebuke or correction that Paul gave him.  Peter did not regard Paul as hostile, rude or a mean man.  Instead, he was thankful to be corrected.  This is the righteous attitude we must have when a brother or sister in Christ corrects us!  Their correction is coming from the Word of God!  In fact, in 2 Peter 3:15, Peter spoke affectionately of Paul, “15 And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him.”

Another example of correction in a unique way is when Nathan corrected King David after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba, (2 Samuel 12:1-14).  Nathan confronted David with the ugliness of his sin.  He pointed out that David was guilty and that he needed to repent.  David responded with a humble attitude, admitting his sin and thus repenting of it.  That is exactly what we must do. David's example must be the motivator to do our best to keep from sinning.  Though we can be forgiven when we repent, just like David, there are still severe consequences that may remain.  In David's case, his actions gave his enemies enough reason to blaspheme God. Beyond that, he still lost his child.

Therefore, let us be the kind of people who love and welcome correction with a humble heart.  Likewise, let us love others enough to correct them with kindness, gentleness, and love that they may make the necessary changes for the well-being of their souls.  Of course, the best and the wisest thing would be to abstain from sin at all that we might not need to be corrected.  But when we indeed need to be corrected, let us be thirsty and hungry for righteousness that we may grow spiritually from our mistakes and push forward toward our goal which is heaven.
  • Give Me the Truth!
(I adapted this from an unknown author to reflect the way that I feel about receiving correction).

If you're indeed my friend and are concerned about my soul, give me the Truth!
Do not flatter me.  Do not praise my virtues while remaining silent about my vices.
Do not fear the Truth will offend me.  Do not treasure our friendship, our friendly relations,
above my salvation!  Do not think that by ignoring my sins, you can help me.
Do not think that being blind to my sins will prove you loving.
However, I may react to it, whatever may be my attitude toward you after you have done it,
GIVE ME THE TRUTH and nothing else!

The Truth and only the Truth can make me free from the shackles of sin,
strengthen me in the pathway of righteousness and lead me to the joys of heaven.
If I am wavering, weak, lukewarm, indifferent, neglectful.
If I have been overtaken in a trespass.  If I have been drawn into the pleasures of this world.
If I have left my “first love.”  If I have been led astray by error.
If I have done none of these things, but simply need to grow more in knowledge and then be edified, GIVE ME THE TRUTH!

If I can do God's will better, please correct me!
If I ever need to apply God's Word to any area of my life where I'm weak, please correct me!
If I can remove even one sin from my life, please correct me!
If I can add even one more virtue to my life, please correct me!
If I can change anything that is negative in my life for something positive, please correct me!
If God can use you in some way to help me change, please correct me!
Even if your attitude is inferior or has some faulty reasoning in your reproof, please correct me!
And please correct me in love!

It is vital that we have this kind of earnest longing or yearning for God's Truth.  If we sincerely want to know and do the will of God from a genuine and honest heart, we will be open to His Truth wherever it is and whoever may present it.  There is so much to learn!!  There are so many ways to grow if only we will keep an open, humble and receptive heart to God's Truth.  Even if it is partial truth, we can still benefit.  


CONCLUSION:

A closed-minded person cannot learn anything.  A closed mind causes one to reject the Truth.  It inhibits our ability to be corrected.  It fails to acknowledge the value of correction in our salvation. The Jews of Jesus' day bragged about having a zeal for God, but their zeal was not according to knowledge, (Romans 10:1-4).  They failed to receive correction from all the prophets and teachers (preachers) that taught them, (Romans 10:17-21).  When man refuses to accept correction and learn from those who have greater wisdom, they are vulnerable to sin, and it can even cost them their salvation.  Those who reject correction are mere fools, (Prov. 1:7; 1:22; 12:1; 23:9). Bible discipline and correction are an act of love, (Prov. 27:6; 23:13; 29:15; Hebrews 12:7-11).

Offering reproof or correction to others as well as to receiving correction from others can be sensitive and challenging.  It is vital that we approach both of these revering God's will, God's Truth, God's righteousness and God's glory.  The purpose of correction is to save the soul, (Gal. 6:1; James 5:19). Therefore, let us keep in mind not to neglect our duty to correct our brethren when it is necessary. The Word of God explicitly teaches that we are to watch out for one another and what better way to do it than correcting each other when we sin or are in error.  Remember that before we correct someone, we must make sure that we have all the facts straight.  We cannot afford to base our correction on hearsay.  Assume the best of your brother or sister in Christ.  Have always the correct attitude (gentleness, love, and kindness) when correcting someone.  Make sure you are doing it because you love them and want them to go to heaven.  Don't do it with the intent of ridiculing, making them feel bad or to get back at them.  Remember always the golden rule:  treat other as you would want others to treat you!  Don't forget to choose your words wisely to point out what's wrong.  Never compromise God's Truth no matter how much the other person tries to justify their sin.  Don't make any excuses for the sinner under any circumstances.  Sadly, we often tend to justify the actions of our parents, children, and loved ones when we wouldn't even dare to justify others.  The truth is, it does not matter if they are close to you because if they are guilty of sin, there is no room to justify or defend them, making excuses for their sinful behavior.  You still have to correct them without any exceptions whatsoever.  God demands that of you!

On the other hand, when we are the ones receiving correction, keep in mind that it is not easy for anyone to approach us and correct us.  So instead of getting upset and too defensive, why not be humble and listen carefully to see if what they're trying to correct in us is true?!  If it is, be humble enough to admit your failings, wrongdoings or shortcomings admitting them and being willing to change your ways that you may not lose your soul.  Also, it is crucial that we assume the best about our brothers and sisters when they correct us realizing that they are doing it with best intentions to help us stay on the right path, the path of righteousness.  Consider it as a blessing to be able to have someone that cares enough for us to point out our sins or wrongdoings.  Have an open heart to know the Truth when you're doing wrong.  Realize that you can and do make mistakes! Never forget that even the apostle Peter had to be corrected, so don't assume that you will never need to be corrected.  Even when the correction is presented in an offensive manner, don't use that as an excuse to ignore sin.  Yes, it is true that correction needs to be done in a more tactful way but remember that our sin or wrongdoings still need to be corrected and that we need to repent.  And while we may not always like to be wrong, when we are indeed wrong, let us take care of the problem at once.  No sin is worth missing out on heaven and be lost forever!!

Jesus, our Lord, calls us to stay in the course and finish well.  God has given us all that we need to live a life of godliness and holiness.  We must hear God's warning and heed His Word with fear and trembling to remain faithful and finish well.  Those who finish well, heed the dangers of sin and the folly of falling away, (1 Tim. 4:1-2; 2 Tim. 3:1-8; 4:1-4).

The entire book of Hebrews in the New Testament is filled with warnings and exhortations about remaining faithful and not turning away from the living God.  It is vital that we listen to God's warnings about the dangers of turning from grace and embracing sin in our lives.  Remember that Jesus spoke to the seven churches of Asia in the book of Revelation and exhorted each one of them to stay in the course.  Many of them Jesus rebuked and called to repent.

One of the greatest dangers we face today is that our culture and even the church despises correction and rebuke.  There is within our society a sense of entitlement that says you have no right to correct me or tell me I am wrong.  They willfully ignore that a significant part of God's plan for His people is correction and rebuke or reproof.  That, along with instruction, knowledge, and encouragement are all over the Scriptures.

To finish well, we must be open to correction and rebuke as well as training and encouragement from God's Truth and those whom He has placed in leadership in the church.  So, are you willing to allow them to correct you?  If we indeed follow Jesus and want to do His Father's will, then we must be ready to receive correction and be rebuked along the way.  There is no other way to make it to heaven! And Heaven is worth it all!  Remember that those whom Jesus loves, He rebukes and chastens.  He said so!  That should be enough encouragement to us.  The One who has the power to reprimand us and chastens us loves us more than His own life!

In Mark 10:17-23, we read of a rich man who came to Jesus and did not finish well.  In Luke 12:13-21, Jesus tells us the parable of the rich fool who did not finish well either.  Remember that our Lord and Savior gave everything up to redeem us.  He who was rich became poor for us so that we might become rich.  He gave Himself, His own body and blood to finish well.  And when He died, He said, "It is finished."

Therefore, let us finish well this battle as we fight the good fight of faith.  Let us finish well this race with our eyes fixed on Jesus.  Let us finish well this walk of faith trusting Him and keeping His commandments above our own desires and pleasures.  Finally, let us receive correction with an open and humble heart and apply it to our life, so that we may receive the crown of life.  Likewise, let us correct others, teaching them with compassion and self-control; in harmony with the Scriptures and in accord with wisdom that we may contribute to their return to God.  This is how we can help them overcome sin.

May the Lord help us to give and receive correction according to His Word and wisdom.  May we correct and teach those in sin and error with longsuffering and forbearance, (Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12-13). May we never retaliate over the personal slights from those who we are teaching and correcting. May we keep teaching God's Truth to them even if they turn on us and find fault.  May we have a humble heart to keep on doing good despite hardship.  May we submit to God with meekness and humility and correct our sins in our life as well as help others overcome their sins and stay strong in the Lord. May the Lord grant us the grace to finish well and receive a glorious welcome into eternal life in Jesus and His Father.


Luci