Summary: A look at the biblical call to teach one another. Teaching isn't only for preachers and Sunday School teachers.
Teach and Admonish One Another
Several weeks into the school year, a mom asked her first grade son, Jacob, what he thought of school now that he was a seasoned pro. “Oh, I love school,” he said, “It's great!” Then, after a brief pause, he added, “Well, except for one thing ... I don't really like it when Mrs. Decker tries to teach us stuff.”
There are times we all feel like little Jacob. We don't like it when someone tries to teach us stuff. We don't want to be told that we don't know how to do it right. We don't want to be shown to be ignorant and unknowledgeable. Poor little Jacob hasn't figured out yet that that's what school is all about.
As we continue our series of the one another principles in the New Testament we see that teaching people stuff is also part of what the church is about.
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 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.
Jesus makes us a part of a community of other believers, he calls us to fellowship together, to worship together, to pray together, to serve together, to preach and teach together, and a big part of the reason for this is so that others in the body can teach us stuff. And this isn't just plain, old, ordinary, everyday stuff. This is amazing stuff; stuff that can change your life, renew your mind, and refill your heart.
Paul calls us to do two important things in this one another statement- teach and admonish. These are two similar ideas that he connects together here. Teaching is simply the idea of instructing. Now the 1st Century idea of teaching was not just a classroom lecture. He's not talking about just book knowledge or head knowledge. This teaching is very practical; to show by example, to pass it in on in life. You could read about fishing by reading a book, and looking at pictures, diagrams and maps, or someone can take you fishing. That's the kind of teaching Paul has in mind here.
I. What it Is...and isn't
Admonish is not a word we use a lot. Admonish means to direct someone's mind toward something that needs corrected. It contains the idea that something isn't right and it needs to be changed. This is where we have a hard time with it. We don't like to be corrected, and many of us don't like correcting others, and those that do, don't usually do it the right way or for the right reasons.
If we are to admonish one another is a godly way, we need to understand two things that admonishment is not.
1. First of all, admonishment is not criticism. We aren't trying to put anyone in their place. We don't admonish to tear down or rip apart. Our purpose is always to build up. Sometimes people will talk about constructive criticism. That's an oxymoron, contradiction in terms like jumbo shrimp or Microsoft works. A critical spirit is never constructive. A critical tone always tears down.
2. Secondly, to admonish is not gossip. In all of the one another passages in the New Testament, you will not find one that says talk about one another. Gossiping about someone is never for their good. It isn't done “in Christian love.” The New Testament associates gossip with all manners of behavior that destroy the body such as anger, division, slander, arrogance, and disorder. Proverbs 16:28 tells us, “gossip separates close friends,” and Prov. 20:19 says we should avoid those who talk too much.
Here are three things that admonishment should be. Most importantly, it is to be loving. We should never confront a brother or sister in Christ if we are not motivated by love for them. Secondly, to admonish is to confront. It is to go to someone and say this thing isn't right. This needs to change. Not that way, but this way. That brings me to the third thing that admonishing is. To admonish is to be willing to roll up your own sleeves and help your brother or sister get it right. It's willing to get dirty in someone else's mess. Admonishment is more than just saying, “Get your act together. Do the right thing.” It is to say, “How can I help? Let me help shoulder the burden. I'll be here until you can make it.”
II. Bringing Balance to the Body.
This one another principle provides important balance to the life of the Christian community. So far, we have seen calls to love one another, to live in harmony with one another, to accept one another. On their own, those statements may seem to suggest that we be willing to tolerate anything in the church, just to keep the peace. But does loving and accepting one another mean we just turn a blind eye when a brother or sister in Christ does something wrong. No, this one another principle shows that a part of loving each other, is also confronting each other when necessary.