In 2Timothy 2:16, there are four main areas that Paul says scripture is profitable; one of those areas is correction. God’s word offers us a standard that allows us to change our lives and be molded more completely into the image of Jesus Christ. Scripture can tell us how to think, talk and act; being a comprehensive guide on “how to walk in the light” (1John 1:7). Scripture can “thoroughly furnish us unto all good works” (2Timothy 3:17), but we must first allow it to change and correct our lives. We have a responsibility as Christians to study the Bible as to seek out ways to improve our faith, character and morality. However, the correction does not always come from our own initiative. Sometimes, scriptural correction can come from our brethren. I may not have realized that I have done or said something wrong, but my brother or sister in Christ (who maybe has more knowledge than me) is aware; they may be the ones to show me my fault through God’s word. Christians have a responsibility to both receive correction and offer correction, and each perspective requires cautious approach.
The Christian Who Offers Correction
In Mark 10:17-22, we find the account of the rich young ruler:
“And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?.... Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, one thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.”
This individual needed correction, and Jesus was willing to give it to him. He didn’t tell him what he wanted to hear; in fact, the young ruler went away filled with great sorrow and depression. However, notice Jesus’ motive and attitude when he corrected him: He loved him! We must follow this same example of teaching the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). We cannot correct our brethren because we want to win an argument, we want to be right, we want to show how knowledgeable we are, or to show authority over others. Our purpose for the difficult task of correction must be grounded in love.
The Christian Who Receives Correction
One of the first questions in the Fishers of Men Bible study material is, “Can a closed minded person learn anything new?” And the answer is no. Having a closed mind causes us to refuse facts we disagree with, reject teachings that are obviously true, and it inhibits our ability to be corrected. A closed mind fails to realize how valuable correction is, even to our salvation. The Jews are said to have had a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge (Romans 10:1). This was mainly due to their inability to receive correction from all the prophets and preachers that taught them (Romans 10:17-21). Refusing to learn from people of greater wisdom can make us vulnerable to temptation, and could even cost us our eternity.