by Bryan Ho

As we come to the end of this very difficult  year, and as we pause for a moment to reflect on it, a plethora of thoughts flash by. In  these moments of reflection, usually many  people will come up with new resolutions for  the coming new year. These “New Year Resolutions” are, generally personal commitments that one makes with one self to be  better than the year before or to achieve  something that has not been achieved in the  current year. It is safe to say, no one makes  a resolution to be worse off than what he or  she already is. 

Exploring this line of thought further, in order  to achieve your resolution or personal goal,  whatever that may be, change is required  and before that change can happen, I believe we must first recognize our mistakes  and shortcomings and then be willing to be  corrected. Only then can we change our previous ways or methods to give ourselves every chance of achieving the resolutions  that are set. 

1. The Scripture tells us in 2 Tim 3:16,17  “All Scripture is given by inspiration of  God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof,  for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good  work.” 

We are not to use our own wisdom or exper tise when we speak to others, but we must  always use the Scriptures as our source of  truth. The Word of God should be used  to teach another what is right and truthful. It  should be used to admonish or reprove a per son for his wrong beliefs and behaviour. It  must also be used to correct and restore the  person to the right way. And, finally, the  Scriptures should be used to train the person  in the way of righteousness.  

2. The result is that one may be equipped  for every good deed. God intends for us do  good works. Eph 2:10 “For we are his work manship, created in Christ Jesus for good  works, which God prepared beforehand, that  we should walk in them.” 

3. Even the old covenant writings were used  in admonishment and correction. Pro 6:23 “For  the commandment is a lamp, And the law a  light; Reproofs of instruction are the way of  life” 

David also writes of the benefits of the Word of  God to his life. Psa 19:7-11 “The law of  the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The  testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the  simple; 8The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of  the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9The  fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true  and righteous altogether. 10 More to be de sired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine  gold; Sweeter also than honey and  the honeycomb. 11 Moreover by them Your  servant is warned, And in keeping them there  is great reward.” 

We need to be “warned” by them for our own  good. 

4. Paul told Timothy how he was to use the  Word of God in his life. 2 Tim 4:2 “Preach the  word! Be ready in season and out of sea son. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and teaching.” Notice that the con vincing, rebuking, and exhorting must be done  with the right attitude – with patience. 

2 Tim 2:24-25 “The Lord’s bond-servant must  not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to  teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness  correcting those who are in opposition, if  perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth”. Notice that patience coupled with gentleness are re quired when correcting.  

5. The Lord wants us to correct others – es pecially those close to us, those in our family,  and those within the family of God, but He  wants us to have pure motives and a sincere  heart as we do this correcting. Notice a few  passages that show us this inner attitude that  must accompany an outward admonishment: 

Spirituality and gentleness: “Brethren, even  if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who  are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit  of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so  that you will not be tempted” Gal 6:1. 

Kindness, patience, and gentleness: “The  Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome,  but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when  wronged, with gentleness correcting those who  are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant  them repentance leading to the knowledge of  the truth” 2 Tim 2:24-25. 

Sincerity and lack of hypocrisy: “You hypo crite, 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 love that is  concealed” Pro 27:5. 

Righteousness: “Let the righteous strike me,  it shall be a kindness” Psa 141:5a. 

Love and Gentleness: “What do you de sire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or  with love and a spirit of gentleness?” 1 Cor  4:21. 

Brotherliness: “Do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” 2Thess  3:15. 

6. Since God uses other people to show us  our faults and help us to effect change in our  life, let us openly welcome this for our own  good! Let us never refuse to be corrected,  never reject someone’s admonishment, or  never take lightly the critical comments of another person. While it is easier to be corrected  by a kind and gentle person, let us even welcome someone’s harsh or unkind criticism. It  may be that we can even learn something of  value from a rebuke that we consider unjustified and unfair. Let us have a heart to receive  correction! So much value may come from  negative comments from others. What we may  consider “negative” may actually include some  helpful admonition that could improve our walk  with the Lord and make us a better person. 

7. The Scriptures frequently emphasize the  benefits of receiving counsel and admonition. Notice this passage that we cited before:  “Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend”  Pro 27:5-6a. This speaks of love that offers us  a rebuke and the “faithful” wounds of a  friend. Yes, this rebuke may give us a “wound”  but the outcome can be positive. Another pas sage we noticed earlier says it well: “Let the  righteous smite me in kindness and reprove  me; it is oil upon the head; do not let my head  refuse it” Psa.141:5. In this case, the admonition is likened to being smitten but the result is  refreshing and positive. 

8. Correction helps us to grow. Are we wise  and understanding to welcome it for our own  good and well-being? Pro 17:10, “A rebuke  goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.” 

9. Benefits to being open to correction. Pro  15:32, ”Whoever ignores instruction despises  himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.” Pro 15:5b, “He who regards re proof is sensible.” Pro 19:25, “Strike a scoffer,  and the simple will learn prudence; reprove a man of understanding, and he will gain  knowledge.” 

10. The two possible responses to correction are vividly set forth in Pro 9:7-10: 
“He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for him self, And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms  himself. 

8 Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.

9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be  still wiser; 
Teach a just 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 under standing. 

Notice the response of the scoffer. The scoffer  will insult the person who approaches him with  admonition. He will also “hate” the one who of fers a legitimate correction. We have probably  all known people like this. We approach a per son with love and kindness and with a sincere  desire to help by admonishing the person. But  instead of receiving our correction, the per son reacts. He may “clam up” and refuse to  speak. He may withdraw from us and refuse to  have contact with us. He may be “hurt” for he  is unwilling to admit his error and his opinion of  himself is so high that he refuses to  acknowledge that he is wrong. Instead of solid ifying a relationship, the offended person re jects us and obstinately remains in his error  and sin. 

On the other hand, notice the very different response of the godly and righteous person who  values knowledge and is open to  change. Rebuke a wise man, and he will love  you” (Pro 9: 8). If a person has spiritual wisdom, he will “love” the person who brings a  word of reproof! Instead of hating the admonisher (as the scoffer did), the wise person  will love the admonisher for he represents the  opportunity to learn, to grow, to better under stand God’s will, and to improve one’s own  character. Again, the passage shows the connection between admonishment and growth in knowledge: “Give instruction to a  wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a  righteous man, and he will increase in learning” (Pro 9:9). This shows a connection be tween being a “wise” person who craves more  knowledge and the “righteous” person who will  grow in learning. They go hand in hand. The  truly wise person, with God’s wisdom, will be a  righteous man, and a righteous man will have  spiritual wisdom. The important point is that  this person will be very open to the reproof  and correction of another person. 

11. Why should we value correction? Notice  a few benefits that come through sincere correction: 

• We can learn of our “blind spots” that we  formerly did not see 

• We can glean from the insights of others  who know the Scriptures 

• We may be able to see how certain biblical passages and teachings bear on our life  situation 

• We can be warned of our spiritual state if  we have come to a point of apathy or care lessness 

• We can be encouraged to look at our situa tion in life differently 

• We can be called to our attention certain  faults that another sees but we have over looked 

• We can be exhorted to greater love and  good deeds 

• We can be admonished to look at our heart  and life more carefully 

• We can be shown our character defects  and our lack of Christ-likeness in some  measure. 

Whatever our resolutions are in the year  ahead, I pray that through humbleness and  sincere desire to be corrected thus effecting  changes in our Christian life, that we may be  more Christ-like so that we can build up one  another and make the journey to Heaven together!