In yesterday’s post, “The Unmentionable One Anothers,” I listed several “one another” instructions that we prefer not to think about, that we prefer to shift off to others, that we would rather not have as our own responsibilities toward one another.
In this post, I’d like for think about the instruction “admonish one another.” According to the dictionary, “admonish” means “1) Warn or reprimand someone firmly or 2) Advise or urge (someone) earnestly.”
We find this instruction in a couple passages of Scripture. In Colossians, Paul says that “admonishing” is one of the things that he does to help the church, and he says that it’s one of the ways all believers should respond when “the word of Christ dwells in [them]”:
Him we proclaim, warning [admonishing] everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. (Colossians 1:28 ESV)
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16 ESV)
The two verbs highlighted above (one translated “warning” and the other translated “admonishing”) are actually the same verb – the one that is often translated “admonish.”
Similarly, when Paul wrote to the believers in Rome, he said that he knew that they had all they needed to admonish one another:
I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct [admonish] one another. (Romans 15:14 ESV)
Again, the highlighted verb above is the one normally translated “admonish,” and is a different verb from the one normally translated “teach” or “instruct.”
Finally, we see that Paul includes “admonishing” in the work of leaders among the church and in the work of all “brothers and sisters”:
We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over [lead] you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers [and sisters], admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-14 ESV)
There are a few others passages in which one or more people are said to admonish others.
But, what does it mean to admonish? How do we admonish someone while still loving them? How do we admonish someone without “lording it over them”? How do we admonish someone without taking the place of Jesus Christ in their life?