Admonishing others – that’s unheard of in our culture today, unless you’re lucky enough to be the boss (parent or employer) of others.
But seriously. What comes to mind when you hear that word?
Judge? Condemn? Rebuke?
Webster’s says it means: to express warning or disapproval to especially in a gentle, earnest, or solicitous manner.
It doesn’t mean any of those descriptors that I gave, yet when Christians speak the truth to those that they love, they are quickly told they are being “judgmental” or “condemning.”
I should probably clarify something before going any further. Churches (people) who picket funerals of servicemen with signs that say “God Kills Gays” ARE being judgmental. They are radicals and don’t represent most believers.
Last night, the subject of admonishing others came up in a discussion among other believers. One person in the group said she has a friend who claims to be a Christian 20+ years, but doesn’t live like she is one. The person in the group said she dials back from confrontations about it with her friend, because she doesn’t want to lose the friendship. Another person mentioned that the reason they don’t want to confront others about their sin is because they in turn, don’t want to be judged for something they are doing.
Colossians 3: 1-17 and 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 speak pretty directly about Christian living and our accountability to one another.
In fact, in 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 the NIV makes it very clear.
14 Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. 15 Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer.
When we don’t share the truth with people (admonish them) even when it’s at times painful, it is the same as lying to them. I don’t want to lie to someone just to protect their feelings. And I don’t like being lied to either. Lying doesn’t build trust. It offers false hope built on deceit.
According to the scriptures, it is biblical to speak the truth to people, and we need people (friends/family) who will speak the truth to us. That is the loving thing to do.
How did we get so far off base from what the bible instructs us to do?
Some people say it’s because of the passage of Matthew 7: 1-7 where in verse 1, it speaks about being careful to judge others lest you be judged, and then verse 7 says “…helping get the splinter out of someone’s eye when you have a plank in your own.”
Yet, if we look back up to the top of this blog entry, the definition of admonish has nothing to do with “judging” people and if we are admonishing others while we are ignoring or denying our own sin, we DO need to be admonished in return.
For many years, I was careful about admonishing anyone other than the people I raised because I was unwilling to overhaul my sinful life and didn’t want them pointing the finger back at me, but worse, I wasn’t reading God’s truth everyday as a reminder on how I should live. I wanted to live my life, my way.
There was no place for God in that equation, but He’s been impressing upon me, His rightful place in my life. Over the last several years, and especially the last few months, He’s convicted me, put me squarely in front of His word and He’s transforming me from the inside out.
I may lose friends and even family by taking a very unpopular stand, but I am the only one who can answer for my life when I face the judgment seat of Christ.
So if you’re my friend or my family member and I speak to you in truth, it’s because I love you.