Pastor Kyle McIver
When was the last time somebody told you that you were wrong? What was the situation? Was it something simple like a number that was incorrect at work? Or perhaps an argument with a friend over political opinions? Or was it something deeper, like your spouse or best friend telling you that your words or actions in a certain situation were sinful?
Nobody really likes to be wrong. Whether big or small, it eats at us to one degree or another when we don’t get it right - especially within the roles, responsibilities, and relationships that matter the most. It’s not only hard to be wrong, it is often even more difficult to receive correction well. Yet this is an inescapable reality for sinners like you and me. We’re going to get it wrong. We need correction in our lives. And it is a blessing from the Lord if you have friends or family who love you enough to offer correction.
Listen to Proverbs 27:5-6: Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. Proverbs is full of similar statements instructing us that correction and rebuke are necessary ingredients if we are to reach maturity. Or think of it like surgery - surgery is performed when there is a problem requiring intervention. Often to perform that surgery, an incision must be made. Now on the one hand, you might say that somebody cutting you is harmful - and in some situations, it certainly is! But the surgeon first wounds you so that they might bring greater healing. The incision is necessary to cure the greater ailment.
This is how we should think about correction and rebuke in our lives. Yes, it may sting. Those words are difficult to hear and we might feel the shame that comes from being wrong or realizing we’ve sinned against a brother or sister. But if you have a friend who loves you enough to be willing to wound you so that you might be healed, then count yourself blessed! We are all blind in different areas, unable to see some of the shortcomings and sins that exist in our lives. We ought to pray for wise and faithful friends who love us enough to tell us the truth. And, we ought to be willing to take that risk ourselves to love somebody else.
So this morning I want to provide you with two parallel exhortations - one for giving correction, and the other for receiving it.
First, for giving correction: wield the scalpel with precision and great care. Surgeons use the right tool in the right place at the right time. There’s a reason there are no machetes in the operating room! Be specific when giving correction. If you’re too broad or speak in very general terms, it will be difficult for your friend to best apply your words and receive the benefit of correction in their life.
And second, for receiving correction: prepare yourself in advance to recognize when a friend is wounding so that they might bring healing. We know it’s hard to be wrong and receive correction. But we also must resist the spirit of this age that says nobody can tell you that you’re wrong... that you get to “live your truth” and “be your authentic self” and nobody has the right to challenge you. To think like this ignores the reality of sin in our lives. We all need help. We don’t see as clearly as we would like to. So prayerfully prepare yourself to recognize correction as love when a friend who cares takes the risk to love you in this way.