Admonish One AnotherThere are many times where the Bible
tells us to do certain things to one another. The
reason for that is: We are the Body of Jesus Christ. We
are members connected to one another, like a hand is
connected to wrist, or a foot is connected to an ankle.
Because we're connected, there are certain things we
have to do for one another and to one another.
For example, the umbrella command is to "love one
another." Right? Then we look at things like "accept
one another," "encourage one another," and "forgive one
another." This lesson may be the most difficult one to
apply. How do you really love those members of the body
who are not living as they should? What do we do for
those kinds of folks?
A lot of times we do what the little girl said when she
misquoted the great commission by just one word. She
said, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gossip."
That's close, but that's still very far away. I've
searched the Bible on these one another passages, and I
can't find a single command in the New Testament where
it says, "Talk about one another."
"I myself am also persuaded of you my brethren that you
also are full of goodness, filled with knowledge, able
also to admonish one another." (Romans 15:14-KJV) Now
admonish is not a word we use everyday. One of the most
common synonyms for admonishing one another is
instructing one another. That's the way it's rendered
in the NIV.
The New International Dictionary of New Testament
theology defines admonish; "It seeks to correct the
mind, to put right what is wrong in order to improve
the spiritual attitude." In other words, admonishment
implies a re-direction of thinking. It is an
instruction, but it's in the context of righting a
1. Counsel, to
warn, or to correct. Certainly, there is a place
in the body for instruction and teaching. There is also
a place in the Body of Christ for correction. That is
not the same as negative teaching. There is a place in
the body for positive instruction and there is a place
in the body for positive correction. Admonishment is
not about being negative at all. It's not about
condemnation. It's not about judgmentalism; rather, it
is a positive warning and guidance that is based on
2. Admonishment from love and
concern and not haughtiness. Paul wrote about a
brother who had been admonished, corrected and warned
"Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn" (there's
the same word as admonish) "but warn him as a brother."
(2 Thessalonians 3:15) Admonishment isn't what you do
to label somebody, it's not what you do to criticize
somebody and it's not what you do to be ugly to
somebody. It's to help brothers and sisters. It stems
out of love and concern.
The classic example of an admonisher is a parent. Now
moms and dads, I know you can relate to this. What does
Ephesians 6:4 say? We've quoted it all of our lives,
"Bring up your children in the nurture and the
admonition of the Lord." Do you know what the word
admonition is? It is the noun form of the verb,
admonish. "Bring up your children in the admonition of
Parents, a major part of your job is to teach your
children. Can you, over the course of their entire
childhood, only teach without correction? No, it just
doesn't work that way. You don't want to nag or correct
out of anger. You want to always be motivated by love.
But a parent abdicates responsibility if he or she
never corrects, never warns or never admonishes. I
think parents, more than anybody else, know that
wouldn't work. Yet, we parents also know that
admonishing and re-directing of our children stems out
of our great love for them. That's the way it is to be
The apostle Paul practiced what he preached, didn't he?
If you've read your New Testament at all, you know that
Paul was not afraid to confront anybody, anywhere and
at any time about sin in their lives. In Galatians
2:11, he confronted the apostle Peter. I had to
confront him because he did the wrong thing. Acts
20:31, Paul admonished elders in the church. But I love
the way that verse concludes when he says to those
elders, "Remember that for three years I never stopped
warning" there's the word, "warning each of you night
and day with tears." Do you see the compassion and the
love? Paul knew that at times admonishment was the
right thing to do, but there's a right way to do
A. Who is
responsible for being an admonisher? Whose
ministry is it? First, it is the responsibility of
leaders of the body. "Now we ask you, brothers, to
respect those who work hard among you, who are over you
in the Lord (look at this) and who admonish you. Hold
them in the highest regard in love because of their
work. Live in peace with each other." (1 Thessalonians
In those two verses Paul recognizes the great
difficulty of shepherding a church. He knows that those
men who are going to serve as elders are going to at
times need to redirect the thinking of some of the
members who are in error. He charges us to support
those men whose task it is to do so. Leaders cannot
lead a church if they turn their head to sin because it
will destroy their credibility. But it's also true that
leaders can't lead if they are not supported by and
respected by the body when they do admonish. Likewise,
members will not be able to support leaders if they are
not informed about what the leaders are attempting to
correct or accomplish. If a church has leaders who care
enough to confront carefully and lovingly, they should
be held in the highest esteem by the members of that
responsibility is it to admonish? Yes, the
leaders, but also the members of the body; "And we urge
you, brothers," now Paul is addressing it to the entire
church at Thessalonica, "we urge you, brothers, warn
those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak,
be patient with everyone." (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
Again, that word, warn, is the Greek word for admonish.
So Paul points to a reciprocal, brotherly ministry of
Christians administering mutual and caring oversight.
He said, "I want you to feel like you've got the
responsibility to admonish one another." Why? Because
we are members of one another. If you're going to obey
the "one another" passages, you must understand what it
means to be "members of one another." We're not members
of an organization. We're members of an organism. We're
members of a body, and we're connected to one
Most Christians are very afraid of mutual
accountability. Very seldom do you see any admonishment
going on between members. I think it's because of the
fallacy of the most prevalent concept of what church is
all about. That concept is: You assemble as a church,
sit down, listen, and leave. I'm in charge of my life.
You're in charge of yours. I don't mess with you, and
you don't mess with me. That's not what membership in
the Body of Christ means. Is that the way your hand
relates to your arm? I don't have anything to do with
you. You don't bother me. We just do our own thing. We
are responsible for one another. The church is
Christian people, an organism, not an organization.
C. What does
it take to be an admonisher? If it's going to be
a ministry that we do-how do we do it?
a) Be full of goodness. "I myself am convinced,
my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness."
(Romans 15:14 NIV) See that's what allows them the
ability to admonish. He says, you've got Christian
character and you've got a level of maturity. Thus, you
have the credibility when it comes time to
I don't know about you, but I don't respond very well
when somebody storms in and attempts to set me
straight. How about you? But, I listen and respond when
someone in humility comes with their eyes filled with
tears to talk to me about a misunderstanding, or maybe
just an area where I'm wrong.
In his first letter to Corinth, Paul had some hard
things to say to that church: "I am not writing this to
shame you, brothers, but to warn you, as my dear
children." (1 Corinthians 4:14) If you want people to
listen to you when you admonish, you'd better walk with
integrity and interact with humility. Judgers tend to
be full of themselves while admonishers tend to be full
of goodness. There's a big, big difference.
b) Be filled with knowledge. Again, in Romans
15:14, after he says be full of goodness, he says, "Be
complete or be filled with knowledge." Now Paul is not
speaking there about random knowledge, just having a
lot of facts; he's talking about Christian knowledge.
He's talking about knowing Scripture, but he means
actually growing in Scripture. Paul compliments the
Christians in Rome because they're not just going
through Scripture, Scripture is going through them.
When that happens, you have the ability to adequately
and effectively admonish somebody.
"All Scripture is God-breathed..." (2 Timothy 3:16) is
memory work for most of us, it talks about what
Scripture is all about. What does the rest of the verse
say? "...and is useful for teaching," yes, also for
"rebuking, correcting..." See the ability to admonish
is found in those who walk with Christ, who are filled
with goodness, and the knowledge of Scripture.
Admonishment, just like encouragement, forgiveness,
acceptance, and just like every one of these "one
another" passages in this series are just natural
outflows of Jesus into the lives of others. Our Lord
did every one of these things at the right time, to the
right people and with the right attitude.
Now not everybody in the church can be an admonisher.
There are some folks in every church who don't walk
with enough credibility to admonish somebody else. I'm
not talking about perfection, but I am talking about
walking the walk. Then there are other people in the
church who are too ignorant of Scripture to be able to
adequately admonish somebody else. But every church
must have some, hopefully many, members who are mature
enough to be admonishers.
D. How do we
do it? How should we admonish one another?
1. Admonish violations of Scripture, and let's let
that be the parameter. Some of you may think this
violates the command to "accept one another" because of
other passages in Romans. Paul said "therefore let us
stop passing judgment on one another" (Romans 14:13);
"accept one another, just as Christ accepted you"
(Romans 15:7) and "Oh yes, but I do want you to also
admonish one another. I want you to correct one
another." (Romans 15:14) You may be scratching your
head and asking, "Well, what gives? I don't
All we're seeing here again is the need for balance and
discernment in the body. If you haven't figured it out,
let me make it clear for you. Paul in Romans 14 and 15
argues that there is considerable room in the body for
opinion. In fact, there is considerable room for
personal conviction. But there is no room in the body
for deliberate sin. Paul made it clear that in matters
of opinion and personal conviction, there should be
acceptance. But admonishment brings a brother or a
sister face to face with the teaching of Scripture. We
must humbly and lovingly point out these violations. I
like what one old preacher said, "If you can't bring
God's Word into the matter, then the matter is not
worth bringing up." That's the parameter for
2. Be sure to examine your own life. A man
stepped on one of those old timey scales and put in his
nickel. It gave him a little card along with his
weight. He nudged his wife and said, "Honey, look it
says "You're handsome, witty, and intelligent." She
said, "Give me that card." She looked at it and said,
"Yes, and it's got your weight wrong, too." Do you know
what you need to do before you admonish somebody else?
You really do need to weigh your life. Jesus taught
that principle in the Sermon on the Mount "Why do you
try to get the speck out of your brother's eye before
you look at that giant beam sticking out of your own
eye." (Matthew 7:3) You cannot be an admonisher until
you first examine your own walk with God and be
sensitive to it.
Let me give you a little caveat. You're not qualified
to be an admonisher until you, yourself, can receive
admonishment. If you think there are not areas in your
life that occasionally don't need correction, you had
better think twice. You better mark that well.
3. Confront the individual, personally. Now this
is hard. Confront the individual personally. Public
admonition is not to be used to avoid personal
confrontation. Neither does sending a letter or e-mail.
The Bible teaches that public admonition is the last
step in correcting a person.
Jesus says that if you've got something against a
brother, he's wronged you, here's how you deal with it
a) you go to them to see if you can't just work it out,
b) if he won't listen, take two or three witnesses, and
try to use group mediation, c) '"If he refuses to
listen to them, tell it to the church;" (look now) and
d) '"if he refuses to listen even to the church, then
treat him like a pagan.'"(Matthew 18:15-17)
I found in those rare instances where I've ever seen
church discipline exerted, that we've skipped step
three. When it's ever done, you go to them one on one,
you take two or three, then you go tell the Elders and
the Elders might get up and say, "Don't have anything
to do with them." It says, "Tell it to the church, and
if he won't listen to them," see the picture I get from
that is, the church (the members, Christians) says,
"We've got a brother in trouble. He is deliberately
spitting in the face of God. How about every one of you
getting in touch with him this week and next week?" You
talk about positive peer pressure, you talk about those
people saying, "Brothers, we love you, we want you to
come back." I've never in all my years been asked to do
that, but that's what I read in Matthew 18. If he won't
listen to them, then treat him like a pagan. Folks,
sometimes in a body, amputation is necessary, but it is
always the last resort.
4. Direct him or her to Jesus. "We proclaim him,
admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so
that we may present everyone perfect in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28) Do you know that the goal of
admonition is admonishment? It's not to make somebody
tow the line to my expectations. Admonishment is simply
encouraging one another to be like Jesus, helping steer
us when we begin to get off course, steering us back to
that goal of being Christ-like.
5. Encourage the one who responds. Maybe they
respond from you just going one on one or, maybe it's
after two or three times. I don't know, but encourage
the one. In Corinth a brother was just living in open
rebellion. He was in some kind of incestuous union.
Paul said, "Don't tolerate that church, that's just
dead wrong." (1 Corinthians 5) So, they exercised the
spiritual discipline we talked about a moment ago. He
responded by repenting. But some of the brothers and
sisters were holding it against him, even after he
repented. As a result Paul said, "Now about that
brother, you ought to forgive and comfort him so that
he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow." (2
Corinthians 2:7) Make sure you understand that nobody's
role is to be only an admonisher.
Among the spiritual gifts in Romans 12, it doesn't ever
say the gift of admonishment. It's nobody's job just to
go around and correct everybody they see. When somebody
responds positively to loving correction, then
encourage them and embrace them.
The command to admonish one another is the hardest one
of all. It's difficult, risky, and costly, but the
dividends are eternal. If we don't care enough to
admonish, then we don't care enough. Paul said, "And I
myself also am persuaded of you my brethren that you
are also full of goodness, filled with knowledge, able
also to admonish one another."
Perhaps this lesson has touched your heart and
rekindled in your mind knowledge of where you need some
redirection. It may be that your own conscience has
been your admonisher. Your own conscience has said to
you even today, "I need to make things right. I need to
be restored or reconciled to God. Lesson #1312
May 18, 1997