Romans 15:14 "Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.15 Nevertheless, brethren, I have written more boldly to you on some points, as reminding you, because of the grace given to me by God, 16 that I might be a minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy... Spirit."
Paul has written a long letter to the church in Rome and he is nearing the end of it. In this passage he is explaining why he wrote to them. Verse 14 is particularly interesting. Clearly there are issues in the church in Rome. Issues between Jew and Gentile Christians and about what the standards ought to be. In verse 14 he says he is confident that they are filled with three things: goodness, knowledge, and the ability to admonish each other. The word admonish means to reason with someone by way of warning.
He then goes on to explain that in spite of his confidence in them God has inspired him to minister to them by way of letter.
This got me thinking. All of us like to think we are basically good and well meaning and know what is right and wrong. Despite this we often disagree about what is right and wrong. I mean look at how fractured Christianity is over questions of how a Christian should live. People insisting on having things "the right way" either run others out of the church or their lives or their marriage or whatever the case may be. Is this what Jesus would have us do?
However it's the comment about knowing how to admonish each other that has me stopped in my tracks. Do we know how to admonish each other? Winston Churchill said "I love to learn I just hate to have anyone teach me." The root of his sentiment is pride. For you to teach me is to admit you know more than I do and perhaps that is a place of humility I'm not prepared to occupy.
To admonish you means I'm right and you are wrong. Again a path potentially paved with pride. Yet there are times when in love we need to correct each other. Do we know how? I am not so confident we do. After 16+ years of pastoring I see two general paths. One is to stand by in silence and watch someone make a mess because we don't want to be offensive. The other path is to get on a high horse and "set them straight".
Neither is effective and neither is directed by the principle of love. When a person has been corrected, rebuked, admonished in the right way they will leave the encounter sure of one thing above all else - they are loved.
When Jesus had to admonish the rich young ruler for his selfish pride the Bible says "Jesus looked at him and loved him and said "One thing you lack...""
What message does your look send? What emotion coats your words? If we want to be able to love like Him we must first be loved by Him for we love because He first loved us.
See you tomorrow.