I like order. I like rules. I like to stick to the rules and I like it when others follow the rules too. I have a tendency to be a “line drawer”. I grew up with three sisters. I am the oldest, and naturally the bossy one. As a military family we moved around…ALOT! Most of the time I was blessed (and thankful) to have my own room. It worked best given my tendency to like things in order, neat, clean, and everything in its place. It was not a desire my sisters all shared with the same conviction. At one of our duty stations my sister Patty and I had to share a room. She was not as concerned about the order of the room. One day, in extreme frustration with the mess, I was going to teach her a lesson (for her own good, of course). This wrong needed to be righted! I drew the line! Literally. I found the duct tape and put a strip down the center of the room threatening that anything that crossed the line was going in the trash! I felt so good about my decision. Smug. I was going to teach Patty to be a neat, organized person, and to follow my rules for the room. Patty readily agreed to this new rule. I was shocked! As she walked out of the room, she pointed out that the door was on her side of the “line”. I was stuck in my “perfect” room.
Love does not rejoice in wrongdoings but rejoices with the truth. —1 Corinthians 13:6
Take a look at the words from this verse in the original language of the New Testament:
Wrongdoing — adikia — unrighteousness of heart and life; what is not conformable with justice, that which is wrong.
Truth — aletheia— truth, reality, purity from all error or falsehood; love of truth in words and conduct, sincerity of heart.
Many times our desire to rejoice in truth and encourage others to do the same can take a turn for the worse. Our desire to instruct and encourage can quickly turn into an attitude of being the overbearing “rule keeper”. It can get us in trouble in our relationships. This is not the love-walk the Lord calls us to follow.
LOVE does not rejoice in wrongdoing but with the truth, so WALK teaching and admonishing one another.
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. —Colossians 3:12-17
Teach — didasko — to impart instruction, to explain or expound on a thing.
Admonish — noutheteo —to put in mind, to warn, to caution or reprove gently.
When the word didasko is used in conjunction with noutheteo it means to set the mind right. Inherent in the word didasko is the intent to influence the understanding of the person who is taught.
The verses preceding the command to teach and admonish are important. They include some of the “one another” commands we have already examined —bear with one another, forgive one another and love one another. We teach and admonish as we speak truth in love to one another.
When we teach and admonish, we need to do so with the mindset of bearing with, forgiving, and loving that person.
We also see an important element in speaking the truth in love in verses 15 and 16. “Let the peace of Christ rule your hearts…let the word of Christ dwell in you richly”. In order to instruct and influence in truth, we must know truth and we must be surrendered to Christ’s rule in our hearts.
Christ’s rule in our hearts and Christ’s Word in our minds is foundational for teaching and admonishing.
“Admonition is the mutuality command we obey least often, and when we attempt to obey it, we usually do the worst job. We would rather keep the peace than deal with a strained relationship, hurt feelings, a misunderstanding or anger.” —Gerald Sittser, Love One Another
Compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience —a list that is impossible for me to exhibit apart from Christ’s work in my own heart and life. There is no room for arrogance, pride, or self-righteousness. It requires grace—allowing God to first influence my own heart and mind and then His love and truth are reflected in my words and actions. Our part is to share truth and allow the Holy Spirit to work in the life and heart of the other person.
Our goal is to lovingly point them to Christ and His truth and leave the job of conviction and change to the Holy Spirit.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two- edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. —Hebrews 4:12
When shared in love, God’s Word is powerful to expose, transform, and heal a heart and life.
When speakng the truth in love, here are some guidelines we can follow:
- Begin with prayer
- Sympathize and affirm
- Ask: Is this something that is preventing Christian growth or encouraging them to wander from Christ?
Is there someone Christ is calling you to share truth in love with today? Be bold, be prayerful, be filled with His Spirit, and walk in love!
©2013 Walk in Love, Susan Cady, susancady.com