Admonishing Grace
March 10, 2022, 8:49 AM

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Colossians 3:16

As believers the scriptures tell us we must speak truth, correction, and accountability in to others lives. But shame driven Christian communities are a turn-off to believers and non-believers alike. So, why do those Fathered by the Lord often turn away from regular church attendance? I believe it is due, in part, to correction being hard to hear (no one wants to hear that they’ve messed up) and most of the time we tend to "call out" one another's sin without inviting Christ's grace into the conversation. 

In Colossians 3:16, the Apostle Paul encourages Christ-followers to admonish one another with all wisdom. Sin is serious; we should call it out, especially when it threatens to harm those God loves. However, this verse also instructs us to assure Christ's message—His entire message—dwells in us richly. 

Therefore, we cannot, and should not, admonish our fellow believers without remembering all of what Christ has said. In Matthew 7:1-5, Jesus reminds us that we are no more "righteous" than those around us. Though we don't hesitate to point out the speck in our neighbor's eye, we are usually reluctant to acknowledge the plank in our own. Again in John 8:1-11, Jesus reminds us that we are quick to label others as "sinners," when we have no right to cast stones. We are in desperate need of His mercy. 

We cannot approach these difficult conversations with a sense of self-righteousness. We have to come to every interaction with our brothers and sisters in Christ with humility and the understanding that we are just as broken as they are. We need the cross just as badly as everyone else. When we hold others accountable for their sin, it should be out of love, not out of a sense of self-righteousness. It should take place in the context of a trusting, loving, deep relationship, where the believer receiving admonishment knows that they are not being rejected or looked down upon. 

When we the Church "admonish" one another, it should not bring about shame—because shame is not in God's vocabulary. Rather, the way we remind one another of Scripture and Truth ought to elicit praise (singing to God with gratitude in our hearts). Our words should serve to build each other up, not to condemn (Ephesians 4:29). The Holy Spirit can enable us to have a zero-tolerance attitude toward sin while simultaneously reminding our fellow believers that they are loved and worthy. The ultimate truth to share is that sin doesn't define our identity or destiny because of what Christ has done. 

Prayer: Father God, You make the path to life known to me! Remind me that Your discipline is an act of mercy. It directs me to more profound joy meant to free me, not restrict me. Lord, help me to confront my sin today, especially before I turn to admonish my fellow believers for how they are falling short. Let my words be gentle. Humble me. Remind me that my brokenness sent You to the cross. Give me a way to affirm Your child and make them feel loved even in the discomfort of correction. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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