Admonish One Another

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Receiving Admonishment
Sometimes the admonition of others crosses the line and it goes from loving correction to hateful criticism. We should strive to be a community where, hopefully, that's more of the exception than the norm. There's nothing wrong with constructive criticism. It can be helpful if it's given in the right way, and if it's actually invited or welcomed by the person receiving it.  Solomon said in Proverbs 15:1: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Sometimes you have to prayerfully decide when to defend yourself and when to deflect when it comes to admonishment from others. At times, our carnal nature prefers doubling down rather than admitting that there may be a kernel of truth in what the other person is saying. So listen to the admonition, focus on the facts, but choose your battles wisely. Sometimes the admonition is worthy of change in your life because it's wisdom that you didn't have; something that is going to be placed into your mind such as a Scriptural truth or a righteous expectation. Other times, it's just someone's personal preference or opinion. When an admonition is given with good intentions, wanting what's right and best in your life and it's written across a backdrop of encouragement and love, it becomes so much easier for us to accept. As we study admonition more, we come to realize that is characterized as being loving counsel and correction. We speak the truth and we do it in love. It may be something that we don’t want to hear, but we need to hear. When admonishment is given the best intentions and in a loving spirit, we place something into someone’s mind that they probably couldn't see themselves. Discussion/Reflection Question: When has someone admonished you, but you were able to accept it because of the way that they presented it or told you?
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How Do We Admonish?
Remember that when you admonish a fellow brother or sister in Christ, the goal is to build that person up. The purpose is to help that other person, not to try to make yourself look better. If we look back at the story of Apollos in Acts 18:26, we read, “He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.” Some translations say that they "explained the word of God more perfectly". So, what's taking place here? Aquila and Priscilla, a Christ-following couple, take this brilliant preacher and they invite him to come over to their home. And through the course of conversation, they lovingly admonish him. They gently correct him by informing him of a different kind of baptism than what John the Baptist had talked about. This is a textbook example of how to admonish. They listened, they observed, and they made a gracious invitation for him to come to their home. They spoke the truth. They gave him wisdom that he didn't already have. And later on, we're going to find that they give him encouragement. Aquila and Priscilla didn't hold him hostage by his mistake or write him off. No, they actually stood up for him. It's the perfect picture of truth, wisdom, and love. And like a wise passenger in the car who points out something in the blind spot that the driver doesn't see, Aquila and Priscilla didn't ignore the problem, but they also didn't discourage Apollos by being too harsh or criticizing him behind his back. The goal of admonishment is to disciple without discouraging, to counsel without condemning. Discussion/Reflection Questions: When have you been admonished in the incorrect way to where you felt discouarged and condemned? How did you receive these words and how did you respond?
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"Put Into One's Mind"
After we have been admonished, what do we do with that information? How are we going to respond? The word “admonish” usually appears in the New Testament right next to another word, and that's the word “teaching”. An example can be found in Colossians 1:28, when talking about Jesus. It says, "He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ." There's teaching when you admonish, there's a lesson to be learned. It's lovingly giving wisdom to build others up, so they can grow into the image of Christ. Admonishment is always connected to truth, love, and wisdom. That's at the heart of it.  Proverbs 3:12 says, “The Lord disciplines those that he loves.” So, the Lord corrects and speaks truth. He helps point us in the direction that we should go, showing us how we should also interact with our Christian brothers and sisters. The Bible says that iron sharpens iron, and when we hold each other accountable and are involved in one another's lives, we will say the hard things and we will also do the hard things. We will care enough to speak words that may be hard to receive, but all of it comes from the foundation of love. Admonition causes the recipient to take a look at things from a different perspective and vantage point. It's a chance to remind another person of Scripture, or to reach out and lovingly voice a concern motivated by the purest of intentions. Discussion/Reflection Questions: Who in your life do you trust enough to lovingly admonish you when you need it? Does this person know they are able to do so?