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Author:Rev. Ted Gray
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Congregation:First United Reformed Church
 Oak Lawn, Illinois
 www.oaklawnurc.org/
 
Title:Giving and Receiving Biblical Advice and Admonishment
Text:Proverbs 25:12, 28:23 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Running the race
 
Preached:08/10/2014
Added:2014-08-13
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.



Pastor Ted Gray
08/10/14 – a.m.

“Giving and Receiving Biblical Advice and Admonishment”
Proverbs 25:12, 28:23; Scripture Reading: Galatians 2:11-21

The truth of Proverbs 28:23, that he who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue, is borne out in our Scripture reading from Galatians 2. In that passage we read how when Peter came to Antioch, Paul opposed him to his face. Paul did so because he says Peter was clearly in the wrong (Galatians 2:11). In verse 14 Paul again points out that he confronted Peter in front of them all.

Consequently, someone who isn’t familiar with the Bible might expect that a great argument broke out. Someone unfamiliar with the importance of giving and receiving biblical advice and admonishment might expect that there was a huge rift between Paul and Peter after this confrontation.

But those of us who know the Scripture, know that that was hardly the case. How did Peter respond to this admonishment that he received from Paul? Peter himself tells us how he responded.  In 2 Peter 3:15 he writes: Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote.

You see, Peter came to see the importance of being admonished by a brother in Christ. His reaction is an illustration of Proverbs 25:12, Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man’s rebuke to a listening ear. Indeed, many Proverbs illustrate the importance of advice and admonishment. The reason why is that God uses biblical advice and admonishment to sanctify believers and also to harden unbelievers. There are two distinct reactions to biblical advice and admonishment.

Two Reactions

Proverbs 19:20 describes one reaction. It says,  Listen to advice and accept instruction and in the end you will be wise.  That reaction describes Peter and all others who are truly, by God’s grace, wise.  Perhaps initially there was a sting, like a slap in the face. Perhaps initially there was even a certain amount of anger. But with thoughtful reflection Peter realized that the Lord had used Paul to bring him to see the error of his way.

Peter had been allowing the heresy that we are justified by what we do rather than being justified by faith alone in Christ alone to be proclaimed in the Galatian church. He went along with leaders in the church at Galatia who taught that people had to be circumcised to be saved. They were adding human regulations and rules to the gospel. The teaching was so pervasive that it even led Barnabas, a gifted leader in the church, astray (v. 13).

But Paul’s admonishment caused Peter to focus on the wonderful realities of the gospel’s power as summed up in verses 20 and 21, where Paul says: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

That message is the heart of the gospel. Through faith in Jesus Christ we become new creations in Him. Our lives become totally transformed as our thinking is directed by the Word of God. And by our actions we seek to conform ourselves to Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit at work within us.  

When Paul confronted Peter, and gave that grand statement of faith, Peter realized the error of his way.  Peter went back to teaching salvation from sin through faith in Jesus Christ alone, with none of our works added. By doing so, Peter lived out the truth of Proverbs 12:15, ..a wise man listens to advice.

By contrast, the second reaction to advice and admonishment shows that someone is truly a fool. Peter also writes about that second response, the response of someone who refuses to listen to biblical advice and admonishment. 1 Peter 2:8 says, They stumble because they disobey the message, which is also what they were destined for.

That is the same truth which Proverbs 29:1 speaks of when it says, A man who remains stiff necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed – and that without remedy. Biblical advice and admonishment will make the wise person wiser and will cause the fool to become even more foolish in their ways. As Proverbs 12:15 says: The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.

Biblical Guidelines for Giving Advice and Admonishment

From these two reactions we begin to see that giving and receiving advice and admonishment is an important area of sanctification in our lives. God uses the advice and admonishment that we at times must give to others, and at times receive ourselves, to sanctify us.  But because of that, it is also a very sensitive area. 

Many like to give advice and admonishment, but few of us like to receive advice and admonishment. Since it is necessary to give, how is the best way?  What guidelines do we find in Scripture when we give advice or admonishment to a brother or sister in Christ?

Usually it is best to do so privately. In Galatians 2 Paul tells how he rebuked Peter publicly. And many people seem to want to do the same today. But the situations that we face when we give advice or admonishment to others are almost always completely opposite of the apostle Paul and his admonishment to the apostle Peter.

Peter was allowing the truth that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone to be compromised publicly in the church at Galatia. Consequently, in that situation it was necessary for the apostle Paul to admonish Peter publicly for the sake of the believers at Galatia.  The public admonishment enabled the Galatian church to see the error of what Peter had been teaching them.

However, for us usually when we give advice or admonishment it is best to learn from Nathan, the Old Testament prophet. You perhaps remember that he is the one who the Lord used to confront David when David sinned with Bathsheba.  Part of the consequence of that sin was that Absalom, David’s son, would lie with David’s concubines on a rooftop of the palace where everyone could see what he was doing to humiliate his father. Because the punishment would be public, some might say, “Why not publicly rebuke David for what he has done?”

Yet Nathan wisely went privately to David so that he could personally tell him one-on-one of his sin. He told him of his great need for repentance. He then also told him privately of the public consequences that would come from his sin with Bathsheba. He lived out what Jesus would teach about centuries later, in Matthew 18:15, where He says, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.”

Secondly, prayer, tactfulness and careful thought are necessary when we go to give someone advice or admonishment. Again consider Nathan. In 2 Samuel 12:1-14 Nathan approached David with a story that David could easily relate to. He told David about a rich man who had a large number of sheep and cattle and a poor man who had nothing except one little lamb that he had bought. He told David how this man had raised the lamb, how it grew up with him and his children, of  how the lamb shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms.  Nathan said, “It was like a daughter to him.” (2 Samuel 14:3).

And then Nathan went on to tell how a traveler came to the rich man. The rich man was going to prepare a meal for this visitor but instead of taking one of his own lambs he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for his company. As we can easily imagine, David was outraged. He said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this deserves to die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”

At that point Nathan spoke the words that would bring such great conviction to David, “You are the man!” The result  was conviction and repentance.  It was a great turning point in David’s life. It led, by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, to the writing of Psalm 51, one of several penitential Psalms. Through admonishment, God brought good out of even the evil David did.

But it may have turned out differently if Nathan had not prayerfully and thoughtfully approached David.  In the same way, we must use prayer, tact and thoughtfulness when we give advice and admonishment to others.

A third point of consideration is that timing is of the essence. As Proverbs 15:23, says, A man finds joy in giving an apt reply - and how good is a timely word!  At times it is necessary to give admonishment or advice on the spot as you see the seriousness of the situation unfold before your eyes. But many other times it is best to wait for the door of Providence to open. If God wants you to give advice or admonishment He will bring about the right situation. And when He does you will know it, and that will be the right time to speak what needs to be said.

As an example, Samuel did not want to tell Eli about his sons. You recall that his sons were very wicked and because of that, judgment would come on Israel. Although Samuel did not want to have to break that news to Eli, God made it impossible to stay silent (1 Samuel 3:1-18). And the same is often true for us. Give much prayer and thought as to when to speak advice and admonishment to others.

There is an old saying, “Soil well watered receives the plow.”  Sometimes even though you might want to admonish someone right away it’s wiser to wait for the right time. And then be sure that you are doing it with the love of Christ, and not out of vindictiveness or anger or “a holier than thou” attitude.

Biblical Guidelines for Receiving Advice and Admonishment

However, as Christians not only are we called upon to speak the truth in love, which includes giving biblical advice and admonishment, but because none of us are fully sanctified we also need to receive advice and admonishment. God often uses a brother or sister in Christ to admonish us in love, or to give us the advice that we need, in order to sanctify us. Yet because of our sinful human pride, advice and admonishment can be extremely hard to receive. Some guidelines include:

First, squelch thoughts of pride. They will only breed quarrels instead of furthering wisdom. Proverbs 13:10 points out: Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. Consider how things may have turned out in Galatia had Peter pridefully defended his false teaching. Instead, he showed that he was truly wise as he humbled himself and listened to Paul’s admonishment. Unfortunately, often the very advice that could change someone’s life dramatically for the better will instead start a quarrel when pride gets in the way.

Secondly, when you are receiving advice or admonishment give careful thought to it, even if it comes from an enemy. The Lord may use those who oppose us for our good, often to humble us and to sanctify us. Consider David’s response to a man named Shimei. In 2 Samuel 16 Scripture describes how Shimei was hurling curses at David when he fled the palace after Absalom had his political coup and grabbed power from his father. It says he pelted David and all the king’s officials with stones though all the troops and the special guards were on David’s right and left.  Abishai said to David, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head.”

But David replied, “Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will see my distress and repay me with good for the cursing I am receiving today.”

So David and his men continued along the road while Shimei was going along the hillside opposite him, cursing as he went and throwing stones at him and showering him with dirt. The king and all the people with him arrived at their destination exhausted.  And there he refreshed himself (2 Samuel 16:9, 11-14).

God is able to use unbelievers and enemies of Christianity for our good, and we can learn from their admonishment, in their case, criticism, as well. As one commentator notes “An enemy’s words, even spoken in hate, may be helpful.”


A third thing to remember is that when advice and admonishment comes from a friend, even though those words may hurt, they are so often so helpful. Proverbs 27:6 puts it clearly: faithful are the wounds of a friend.

When we studied the characteristics of friends, as they are described in the book of Proverbs, we saw that one very important characteristic of a true friend is their candor, that they will be honest with us even when it hurts. In Job 6:25 Job says, “How painful are honest words!” They are painful, yet they are needed for our own growth and sanctification.

* * *

So many years ago the apostle Paul admonished his brother in Christ, the apostle Peter. Undoubtedly, initially it really hurt. But Peter was wise.  He learned from it.  He proved the truth of Proverbs 28:23, He who rebukes a  man will in the end find more favor than he who has a flattering tongue.

Congregation, are you and I in the same category as Paul and Peter? Are we willing to learn from biblical advice and admonishment? And are we willing to give advice and admonishment with tactfulness?  With careful thought saturated with prayer?  With great love, as we seek to speak the truth in love?

If so, your life and mine will be a testament to the truth of Proverbs 28:23, He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue.  And also a testament to the truth of Proverbs 19:20, Listen to advice and accept instruction and in the end you will be wise.  Amen.

 

- Bulletin outline -

 

He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue.... …Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man’s rebuke to a listening ear. - Proverbs 28:23, 25:12


“Giving and Receiving Biblical Advice and Admonishment”
 Proverbs 25:12; 28:23; Scripture Reading: Galatians 2:11-21

I.   Scripture stresses the importance of biblical advice and admonishment:
       1) It will bring further wisdom to the wise (Proverbs 19:20)

 


       2) It will harden the fool (Proverbs 29:1)

 


II. When giving advice or admonishment:
      1) It is usually best to do so privately, at least initially (2 Samuel 12:1; Matthew 18:15-17), unless heresy or other blatant sin

           is leading others astray (Galatians 2:11,14)

 


      2) Do so prayerfully, tactfully with careful thought (2 Samuel 12:1-14)

 


      3) Often it is wise to wait for the door of providence to give you the best opportunity
           (1 Samuel 3:10-18)

 


III. When receiving biblical advice or admonishment:
      1) Squelch thoughts of pride; they will breed quarrels instead of furthering your wisdom (Proverbs 13:10)

 


      2) Give careful thought to admonishment, even from an enemy.  The Lord may use their
           words to shape your humility and further your sanctification (2 Samuel 16:5-14)


 
       3) When a friend admonishes you remember Proverbs 27:6b, faithful are the wounds of a friend   

 
08/10/2014 – a.m.
 

 

 

 

 




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Ted Gray, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 08/1, Rev. Ted Gray

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