CORRECTION

 

This morning we are going to examine two aspects of correction.

 

  1. How well do you give it?
  2. How well to you take it?

 

It doesnít matter whether you are a educated or uneducated, rich or poor, a mature Christian or a new one, we all need to be corrected from time to time because we all fall short and find ourselves in sin from time to time (Rom. 3:23). Sometimes it is sins of omission and sometimes it is sins commission. Either way, we need to learn to give and receive correction when we find ourselves or other in sin. The Bible certainly speaks of this. For example:

 

Matthew 18:15 " Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.

 

Proverbs 10:17 He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, But he who refuses correction goes astray.

 

In fact, when you read you through the Bible, you see it repeated in one form or another the need for correction. Of course, the source of correction is the Word of God because it tells us how we should live our lives in order to be found faithful to the Lord, which is why Paul instructs Timothy:

 

2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

 

It becomes quite clear that we must learn to give and receive correction in our lives. When it comes to giving correction, there are two general ways to do it.

 

First, there is destructive criticism. This is the kind of correction that we want to avoid giving to others because it is not helpful because it destructive to oneís being. A person that gives this kind of correction is the kind of person that can never see good in anything. They are fault finders because that is all they look for. This is a bad habit to develop because it makes you live a negative pessimistic life, and it cause people to dread to be around.

 

Those who live their life to give out destructive criticism will cause a church to become divided and it members war against one another. This is why Paul warned the church at Rome about divisive people like this in:

 

Romans 16:17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.

 

Not only can destructive criticism divide a church it can ruin relationships and respect for that person. For example, if a parent is constantly negative to their children it can ruin their self-esteem. Done enough, the child will eventually become numb to this kind of correction and pay no attention to it. In short, they will not respect their parents any longer and huge wedge will be driven between them.

 

No matter how you look at, this kind of destructive correct must be avoided at all cost and is should be part of a Christianís life.

 

Just opposite of this is constructive criticism. This is the best approach to correcting someone. This kind of criticism is not done from a mean spirit, but out of love for the well being of others. It is the kind of criticism that we would want used on us if we found ourselves at fault.

 

Jesus said:

 

Matthew 10:16 " Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

 

When we correct someone, we must learn to do it in a wise manner. We should never be looking for faults, but when the rear their ugly head, we need to be willing to have love and concern for that person to want to help them get of their sin no matter how uncomfortable it may be.

 

When we have the right attitude about correcting someone from their faults, and we approach them out of love, most of the time they are going to respect us for what we have done. This will not be the case every time because some people are aware of what they are doing is wrong and if someone brings it up they will bite your head because they are not ready to deal with their sin. Sometimes those who do bite your head off, will later come back and apologize for their behavior because the more they think about what you told them and how approached them causes them to deal with their sin.

 

While correcting someone can be very uncomfortable, it can also be very rewarding if they heed the correction and turn away from their sin and back to God. Let as a Christians always do our best to offer constructive criticism instead of destructive criticism.

 

Now let us talk about taking correction. I have never met anybody that wakes up in the morning wondering how many times they are going mess up today. Most people do not want to be wrong and certainly all Christian should strive each day not be at fault, but it happens and we must be the type of people that humbly accept correction instead of always thinking we right even when we know we are wrong.

 

First, we must understand that there is big difference between matters of opinion and matters of doctrine. When it comes to matters of opinion, we can certainly respect a personís opinion and hear them out, but it does mean that we actually need to change what we are doing. For example, someone might say, I think you should be driving a Toyota instead of Chevy. Or someone might say, I think you should get a haircut you hippie.

 

When it comes to our worship service, one might say, well I think we should have 5 songs, 3 prayers one standing, one sitting, and kneeling, and we should have the Lordís Supper be last thing we do. Now it might be that we do those things in that exact order, but again these are simply matters of opinion because the number of songs we have or how many prayers we have or what position they are done in or whether we take the Lordís Supper at beginning or the end of a service is not that critical as long we sing, pray, and partake of the Lordís Supper.

 

While we may take heed to certain opinions to further unity and the gospel as Paul did:

 

1 Corinthians 9:19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more;20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law;21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law;22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.23 Now this I do for the gospel's sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.

 

Matters of opinion are something that we have to conform to.

 

However, when it comes to matters of doctrine, that is the teachings found in the N.T. the taking heed and making changes is absolutely necessary, and we must be humble enough to change our ways when the Word of God say we should. We cannot be stiff necked like the Pharisees of Jesusí day. Instead, our approach to taking correction can be seen by Apollosí example.

 

Acts 18:24 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus.25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.27 And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace;28 for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.

 

Aquila and Pricilla heard Apollos preaching, but he was not preaching Jesus, he was still preaching the message of Johnís baptism. They didnít try and interrupt his preaching and tell him how wrong he was or try to humiliate him before everyone. No, they took him to the side and explained to him what he was missing.

 

We do not read him arguing with them or telling them ďwho do you think you are, trying to teach me something.Ē Instead, is implied that he took correction humbly and accepted it because after they taught him more accurately, we see him refuting the Jews publically about Jesus from the Scriptures.

 

When we someone comes to us and shows from the Bible that we are sinning or that we are not teaching the truth in accordance with Godís Word, then we need to take heed to Godís Word teaches and make the necessary changes. Like Apollos, sometimes we are simply not aware that we are doing wrong or teaching wrong, but like Apollos, we must be willing to grow and change our ways.

 

While Apollosí correction was done privately, sometimes correction must be done publically. Usually, when this is done is because the person that is sinning knows better. A great example of this comes from:

 

Galatians 2:11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed;12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, "If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?

 

Peter, knew that he shouldnít be playing favorites, but it did it anyway. Paul confronted him about it in front of them all. His sin was public, so he was rebuked publically. Not only Peter an apostles he was an elder in the church who causing other members to sin as well, so he corrected publically. Paul tells us in:

 

1 Timothy 5:19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses.20 Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear.

 

Paul says if an elder is guilty of sinful behavior that has been confirmed by 2 or 3 witness then he is to rebuked in the presence of all so that everyone may fear. What does that mean? It means when the brethren see that even an elder will receive church discipline that no one is excluded from it. Many times if a leader within the church is sinning, he is causing others to sin as well as they follow his leadership, therefore there is the need for public correction.

 

One thing we learn from Peter is that he did not pull the apostle card and rebuke Paul for correcting him, and we go know indication that Peter denied or argued with Paul about the matter because he knew he was in the wrong. In fact, Peter spoke fondly of Paul in

 

2 Peter 3:15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation -- as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you,

 

Every indication from Scripture tells us that Peter humbly accepted the correction Paul gave him, and he did not consider Paul as mean man, but was thankful that he was corrected. This is the same attitude we must have when it comes to taking correction from a brother or sister in Christ when it comes from the Word of God.

 

Our last example is going to show us another way to correct someone in unique way. It has to do with how Nathan corrected king David after committed adultery with Bathsheba:

 

2 Samuel 12:1 Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: "There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor.2 "The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds.3 "But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him.4 "And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him."5 So David's anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, "As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die!6 "And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity."7 Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.8 'I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more!9 'Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon.10 'Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.'11 "Thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun.12 'For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.' "13 So David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.14 "However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die."

 

Sometimes this can be the best way to correct someone because once you can get a person to see how ugly a sin when think someone else is doing it and then point out that they are the one this guilty of it, it kind of makes them correct themselves. It is pretty hard for you to go back on what you just said about yourself and how your sin should be treated. As we read, David had a humble attitude about it, and he admitted his sin and repented of it. That is exactly what we must be willing to do, and we should let Davidís example show us how important it is for us to do our best to keep from sinning in the first place. Yes, we can be forgiven when we repent, just like David was, but his actions would give his enemies reason to blaspheme and still lose the child because of his sins.

 

So, let us be the kind of people that love someone enough to correct them of the their wrong and when we are receiving the correction let us be humble enough to hear, think on it, and make any necessary changes. Of course the best thing would be to abstain from sin so we do not have to be corrected, but when it happens, let us be eager to grow from our mistakes and push forward to goal of making it to heaven.

 

In conclusion,

 

When we are correcting someone, let us keep the following in mind:

 

  1. Donít neglect your responsibility to correct your brethren. The Scripture clearly teach that we are to watch out for one another, and correcting each other when we sin is part of that.
  2. Before you correct someone make sure you have facts straight and do not base your correction on hearsay.
  3. Assume the best of your brother or sister in Christ.
  4. Have the proper attitude when you correct someone. Do it because you love them and want to help them get to heaven. Donít do it to be just to make them feel bad or to get back at them. Remember the golden rule: treat others as you would want others to treat you.
  5. Consider the personality of the person and the situation he is in. Some people you can tell point blank what they are doing, but others require well chosen words.
  6. Never compromise Godís truth no matter how much someone tries to justify their sin.
  7. Donít make excuses for the sinner. We have tendency to justify the actions of our parents or children when we would not give the same justification to anyone else. It doesnít matter if they are close to you, if they are guilty of sin donít make excuses for their sinful behavior.

 

When we find ourselves on receiving end of correction, let us keep the following in mind:

 

  1. We need realize it is not easy for someone to come up to us and correct us, so instead of getting defensive right away, we need to listen carefully and see if what they are correction us on is true. If it is, we must be humbly enough to admit and change our ways.
  2. We need assume the best about our brothers and sisters when they do correct us realizing that they have good intentions to help keep us on the right path. We should consider it a blessing that we have someone the cares enough about us to point out the sin in our life because each of should desire to want to know when we are doing wrong.
  3. We got realize that we can and do make mistakes. Where not any better that the apostle Peter who had to be corrected, so let us not every think that we will never need to be corrected.
  4. Even if our wrong doing is pointed in a bad manner, we cannot use that as an excuse to deal with our sin. Yes, the person telling us needs to learn to be more tactful in correcting someone, but our sin still need to be taken care of.
  5. We must always be ready to repent. While we may not like being wrong, when we are, take care of the problem right away because no sin is worth missing out on heaven.

 

If we can follow these general guidelines when it comes to giving and receiving correction it will benefit us, those we deal with, and it will help the keep the church strong.

 

Adapted from Evan Diaz on his sermon Correction as printed in Spiritual Perspective.