You know that moment. It’s another normal night with your community group, and everyone's talking about their previous week…and then it happens. Someone says something that, frankly, doesn’t sit right with the group. You know what I mean. This isn’t a confession, where they know they are wrong and are asking for help. No, this is a current, on-going action that is dishonoring to God, and it doesn’t even appear to even be on their radar.
Maybe it was something like this:
“I just told my boss I did the work, to get him off my back.”
“I let him have it him pretty good—nobody talks to me like that!”
“Well, it’s not in my budget, but no worries—I just charged it.”
“I’ll be ready to forgive him when he comes and begs me to!”
“I probably shouldn’t have been driving, but I made it home without a problem.”
“We’re just going to move in together to save money before the wedding.”
And there you are. Trying not to display visible signs of bewilderment as you look around the room wondering, “Did I hear that right? Should I say something? What do I say? What if I don’t say it well? How will they take it?”
Navigating a potentially hard conversation of calling out sin and pointing someone to truth is an example of what the Scriptures refer to as admonishment. It’s something that we all need to be willing to do in community, which is why “Admonish Faithfully” is one of our 6 Community Core Values. It is sometimes thought of as “tough love” or “giving someone a kick in the pants”, but when it is done well and in obedience to Scripture, it’s something that helps others mature in Christlikeness and brings glory to God. It should always be motivated by a desire to bring about the best for that person, preceded by forethought and preparation and executed with grace and tenderness.
You may think, “Well, I’ll just pray that the Holy Spirit convicts them.” You definitely should, but Scripture says that this is your first step, but not your only step (See Galatians 6:1, Proverbs 24:11-12, Matthew 18:15-17 for starters). We have responsibility.
Think about it: would a doctor be very helpful if, knowing a patient had a life-threatening malady, he didn’t say anything? Would a teacher be very helpful if she passed a student who clearly hadn’t learned the material? Would the DMV be benefitting the individual or society at large by granting someone a license who clearly couldn’t drive? No! These would be considered gross abdications of responsibility, disasters in the making, and ticking time-bombs.
In the same way, the body of Christ (that’s us!) has a responsibility – and a privilege – to help its individual members grow up and mature in Christ-likeness (Ephesians 4:15-16).
So the question is, “How can I effectively and lovingly admonish a brother or sister who is in need of it?” It is definitely not something to be taken lightly, but instead involves prayer, studying Scripture, self-examination, and finally, making a plan to go to that person (first in private, and then with others if necessary).
To continue with the “how” of admonishing faithfully, check out this resource, which is a helpful step-by-step guide in navigating these types of conversations.