Practicing Receiving Correction
Last week’s blog post highlighted what Omri Miles & Josh Kellso are going through with our young adults in 414, Preparing to Receive Correction. This post is the followup to that one. Receiving correction in the moment is oftentimes very difficult. We don’t get to decide who brings correction to us or how that person delivers the correction. But we do get to decide how we listen! The following thirteen descriptions characterize godly listening in the face of correction, reproof, and rebuke from others.
When receiving correction, we should listen in the following 13 ways:
- Fearfully (Pro. 1:7; Ecc. 12:13; II Cor. 7:1). Fear (revere, honor, worship) God as you receive correction. This requires that you do willingly receive it (Pro. 1:7) and change wherever appropriate for greater holiness of life (II Cor. 7:1). The fear of God ought to be our highest motivation for receiving correction. This is why we exist (Ecc. 12:13)!
- Blamelessly (Phil. 2:14-15; Eph. 4:30-5:1). Even when being corrected, our primary concern should be to do so in a godly way, i.e. in a way that imitates and honors the Lord (Eph. 5:1). This requires that we do not complain about the content of the instruction or the manner in which it was given (Phil. 2:14-15).
- Lovingly (I Cor 13:7; I Thess. 5:12-14). Love requires that we believe the best about the other person’s motives (I Cor 13:7). We should love and honor those who are brave enough to correct us for our good (I Thess. 5:12-14).
- Fully (Pro. 18:13). Listen to the entire correction before speaking. Do not interrupt or protest, but listen to the entirety of what is being said (Pro. 18:13).
- Humbly (Pro. 18:12; Jas. 3:13-18). The “wisdom from above” is “peaceable, gentle, open to reason…” (Jas. 3:17). A humble attitude is necessary to practice these godly qualities in the face of correction. If you can do the hard work of humbling yourself, you most likely will be rewarded with honor (Pro. 18:12).
- Prayerfully (I Thess. 5:17). Pray and ask God to show you your fault if you cannot see it. Also, pray that God would help you to change for His glory and the good of others.
- Thoughtfully (Pro. 14:15; 21:29). Take time to reflect on the correction. Seriously consider what changes need to be made in your life.
- Thankfully (Pro. 11:17; I Thess. 5:18). Express thankfulness for the care being exhibited toward you (Pro. 11:17). Thankfulness is required in all circumstances, and correction is no exception (I Thess. 5:18).
- Eagerly (Pro. 18:15; Phil. 4:8). Look for anything that is true in the correction (Phil. 4:8). Although no one will correct us perfectly (just as we won’t ever correct others perfectly), if there is anything true in the correction, then we should eagerly desire it for the sake of change. Eagerly seeking correction is an extension of desiring to learn and increase in wisdom (Pro. 18:15). Correction is an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of yourself, God, Scripture, the human heart, and the gospel.
- Discreetly (Pro. 16:28; 17:9). Do not listen intending to gossip about what was said or slander the person bringing the correction to you (Pro. 16:28; 17:9).
- Accurately (Pro. 1:8; 15:31; Titus 2:2, 5, 6). It is interesting to note that the first command in the book of Proverbs is “Hear!” (Pro. 1:8). Avoid making a caricature of the correction being brought to you or jumping to outlandish conclusions about what is being implied because of what was said. For example, if a friend gently communicates, “What do you think about the way you responded to your roommate? It seemed that your speech was a bit harsh.” Do not respond by saying, “So, what, you just think I’m a rude person, now?!” Ensure that you have heard correctly. Try repeating the charge back to the other person before responding or protesting. Accurate listening often requires sensibleness, restraint in our thought-life, and sober-mindedness (Ti. 2:2, 5, 6).
- Discerningly (Pro. 4:23; 14:8; 16:20; Eph. 5:15-16). Search what God’s word says about the charge being brought to you (Pro. 16:20). This demonstrates that you actually desire to discern right and wrong for the sake of putting off sin and growing in holiness. Until you begin the process of looking to God’s word for answers, there can be no assurance of a sincere desire to change by faith for God’s glory.
- Honestly (Pro. 27:6; Heb. 12:11). It is okay to acknowledge the difficulty of the correction/discipline. All discipline involves personal pain (Heb. 12:11). Good friends will “wound” one another at times out of love (Pro. 27:6).