Receiving encouragement and admonition from others
By Zac Poonen
FELLOWSHIP, is a two-way matter. Every part of the human body needs to receive assistance from, as well as give assistance to, the other parts of the body. So too in the Body of Christ. We must be humble enough to acknowledge our need of encouragement from others. It is a proud spirit that professes to be able to carry on without any encouragement from anyone. If we are honest, we must acknowledge that we are able to live and work much better when encouraged. Each of us needs encouragement.
Consider the attitude of the apostle Paul, when writing to the young Christians at Rome:
I long to visit you so that I can impart to you the faith that will help your church grow strong in the Lord. Then, too, I need your help, for I want not only to share my faith with you but to be encouraged by yours: each of us will be a blessing to the other (Romans 1:11,12 The Living Bible—LTB).
There we have a clear example of how the members of the Body are to function towards each other. Even the great apostle, despite all his experience and his maturity, recognised his need to receive help and encouragement from the young Christians at Rome. We too need one another’s help and encouragement.
We must also be humble enough to receive admonition from others. All of us have faults. What is worse, all of us have “blind spots”, so that we are not able to see some of our faults as clearly as others can see them. This is where other members of the Body can help us—if we are willing to receive their help. If, however, they sense a proud, unteachable spirit in us, they may never come and tell us what they see, and we alone shall be the losers.
Paul was faithful enough to rebuke Peter, when he once saw the latter compromising, and Peter, in turn, was humble enough to accept Paul’s rebuke, for he saw that Paul was right. The result was that others were blessed too and the Body of Christ was built up (Galatians 2:11-16). What loss might have been incurred, if Paul had kept silent or if Peter had been too proud (as the senior apostle) to receive the word of correction!
Are we accessible and open to those who may have a word of reproof for us? Or do we indicate to others by our attitude that we do not want any criticism?
If other members of the Body find it difficult to approach us with advice, it is more than likely that even Christ the Head may be finding it difficult to get through to us. One of the clearest tests of our spiritual condition is our attitude to criticism.
Here is what the Bible says on this theme:
It is better to be criticised by a wise man than to be praised by a fool! ... Anyone will- ing to be corrected is on the pathway to life ... To learn, you must want to be taught. To refuse reproof is stupid ... If you refuse criti- cism you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept criticism you are on the road to fame ... If you profit from constructive criti- cism you will be elected to the wise men’s hall of fame. But to reject criticism is to harm yourself and your own best interests ... The wise man learns by listening ... Don’t refuse to accept criticism; get all the help you can ... Wounds from a friend are better than kisses from an enemy (Ecclesiastes 7:5; cf. Prov. 10:17; 12:1; 13:18; 15:31,32; 21:11; 23:12; 25:12; 27:6—The Living Bible).
The Body of Christ will be built up, as each member fulfils his responsibility in giving and receiving.
About the Author
ZAC POONEN was an officer in the Indian Navy who resigned his commission in 1966. He has been serving the Lord fulltime in India for the last 42 years and is primarily engaged in planting local churches. Zac married Annie 40 years ago. She is a medical doctor who conducts free medical clinics for women and children during Zac’s church conferences in India. Many hundreds come for medical help. Their four sons are all disciples of the Lord Jesus in their secular professions as software engineers and are all married to born again believers. Zac has written 25 books on the deeper Christian life and travels to teach at conferences in many lands. His website has his video, audio and written material that can all be downloaded freely: http://cfcindia.com. To read or download previous issues of “WORD FOR THE WEEK” please go to : http://www.cfcindia.com/web/mainpages/ word_for_the_week.php