Summary: There is a need for us to learn to offer admonition and for us to learn to receive it. This sermon attempts to teach us how to do both.


A. One day a man was seated at a table of an upscale restaurant.

1. The man proceeded to tie a napkin around his neck like a bib.

2. The maître d´ called the waiter aside and said, “Try to make that man understand, as tactfully as possible, that the way he is wearing his napkin is not done here.”

3. The waiter approached the customer and said, “Shave or haircut, sir?”

B. As you probably know from experience, confrontation is risky business.

1. Most of us don’t like to do it and so we try to avoid it at all costs.

2. We don’t like to be seen as the “bad guy or gal.”

3. When we confront someone, we run the risk of damaging the relationship.

4. We worry that the person we are confronting may get hurt or angry, and then what, right?

C. Why is it that admonition is so unpopular in our culture?

1. Probably because our culture is both radically individualistic and morally relativistic.

2. Since our culture prizes individual rights over responsibilities, and since our culture rejects universal, absolute moral standards, there simply is no basis for moral correction.

3. Add to that the way that pride gets in the way, and add to that the way that many dysfunctional people and families have abused confrontation and the way manipulative religious groups have abused confrontation, and it’s not surprising why we shy away from admonishing one another.

D. Nevertheless, in the face of our dislike of confrontation and its abuse by some, God says that it is necessary and can be very helpful.

1. Last week we emphasized the truth that we must learn to accept one another just as Christ accepted us to the glory and praise of God.

2. But like so many issues we see in Scripture, there is another truth that brings that one into balance.

3. The contrasting, balancing truth for “accept one another” is “admonish one another.”

I. What does it mean to Admonish One Another?

A. The Greek word for “admonish” is noutheteo, which literally means “to place on one’s mind.”

1. It is also translated “to counsel,” “to warn,” and “to instruct.”

2. It is part of a group of words that range from correcting the ignorant to rebuking the obstinate.

3. Admonition seeks to correct those who are damaging themselves and others by their wrong moral choices.

4. Biblical admonition is moral correction through verbal confrontation motivated by genuine love.

5. There is a whole spectrum of ways one might admonish, ranging form a gently raised question to a very forceful rebuke, what Nathan the prophet delivered to King David was somewhere in between the two.

B. Ultimately, there are few greater signs of our love for someone, than our willingness to risk rejection and broken relationship, because we confronted them for their own good.

1. Love demands that we not let anyone get away with wandering away from God and possibly losing their salvation.

2. Love demands that we hold each other accountable to God’s truths and the truth about ourselves.

C. If admonishment is done in the right spirit, with the right motive, using an appropriate method, then the person receiving the admonition will be better for it, and will eventually thank us for it.

1. A stronger and closer relationship can be the outcome of proper admonishment of each other.

2. Real Christian community cannot be experienced if there is only acceptance, encouragement and affirmation, there must also be a place for admonition.

3. That’s precisely what Paul envisions in Colossians 3:16, when he says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”

4. Paul said something similar in Romans 15:14, “I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.”

D. From these two texts, we see two important things that must be present for effective and helpful admonishment.

1. First of all, we must be characterized by goodness.

a. That speaks to our motive for admonition – our love for each other.

b. And that speaks to the overall direction of our spiritual life.

c. Admonition works best when the person doing it has their own house in pretty good order.

d. Obviously none of us are perfect, but as you might recall, Jesus said to take the log out of your own eye, before you attempt to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

2. Second, we must have a good grasp of God’s Word.

a. In Col. 3, Paul suggests that the Word should be dwelling in us so that we can admonish with all wisdom.

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