Read Colossians 3:16
16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. (NIV)
Take a quick quiz on the above passage. Which word seems to stick out like a sore thumb? Which word seems to not quite fit in? If your mind works like mine, then the word ‘admonish’ is the answer. Paul is telling his readers to enjoy the presence of Jesus, with lots of singing and thankfulness. But right in the middle, he is also urging them to admonish one another as they gather together. So it seems a bit of rebuke and correction is not incompatible with joyful and thankful praise and sound teaching.
For this to be so in practice, we need to be sure we get our admonition right. It is not developing a critical spirit where we tend to find fault with everyone or everything. It is not poking our noses in others’ private affairs and trying to control their life. It is recognising that in the Christian church family we bear some responsibility for one another. If we see someone going off the rails or headed for danger, we take action. We don’t keep quiet out of niceness or a desire for a quiet life.
A truth spoken in the right way, at the right time, by the right person, can be life changing. The fact that sometimes our correction of others is harsh, or intrusive, or unfair does not alter the essential rightness of godly correction. If we are in fact like sheep gone astray, we can assume the good shepherd wants us to get back on track. And given how he works, we can also assume he uses other sheep to do the job.