Armand J. Azamar
Correction is an inevitable, yet crucial part of the Christian walk and life in general. The fact of the matter is no one starts or ends this walk with Jesus perfect. Oftentimes, correction is an unwelcome mark of love.
John 16:8 says the Spirit convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment; this conviction is a form of correction. The Gospel itself is really one big correction. We are going our own erroneous way as described in Isaiah 53:6. But, Jesus completely corrects our way, changing us from sinners to saints.
My passion is to write. So, I could not help but relate spiritual correction to this.
In my freshman year of high school, I took this English class with this older teacher. I did very poorly in her class back then; in fact, I believe I had a D. One day, she pulled me into the hallway to talk to me.
“Armand, I can tell you are a gifted writer,” she said. “But you are lazy.”
As a teenager, I remember being kind of surprised by that. But, I couldn't argue with her because it was true. So, she placed me in a Journalism class. This class forced me to constantly write and be on a deadline. And that actually set up my love for journalistic writing and media production.
If it weren’t for that correction, things like my various long form writings and The Proverbs’ Guide to Love probably would never have happened. Years after that correction, that teacher helped me, even though it did not feel good in the moment.
Let’s read Proverbs 9:7-9:
7 “He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself,
And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself.
8 Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.
9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
The wise man understands the need for correction. He understands it makes you wiser. He knows better for next time. He will love the corrector back because he understands that correction is a form of help and love. Proverbs 12:1 says whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid. Notice the strength of the word stupid.
The scoffer does not understand this. It is reversed; the scoffer sees correction as a form of hate. A scoffer is defined as “someone who mocks or ridicules a belief of another”. The Hebrew word for scoffer can also mean “ambassador”. It carries the idea that the scoffer considers himself an authority. Try to correct someone who sees himself as an authority and you will find an almost impossible task. That person is wise in his or her own eyes (Proverbs 3:7) and cannot be wrong.
In our world, we consider disregard for correction as strength and maturity. The ability to take correction is considered weakness or passivity. In reality, the ability to take correction is the true sign of strength and maturity. The inability to take correction (to disregard it) is a sign of weakness. Why? What is generally the first response to correction?
“I am not wrong! You can’t tell me what to do!”
Oftentimes, the corrector is the victim of character assassination. This is a psychological/political term where a person or group attacks the reputation of the person instead of dealing with the actual argument or (in the context of this article) correction. For example, let’s say we have a person corrected for a fault. Instead of dealing with the fault, the person may call the corrector crazy, angry, prideful or an idiot. This relieves the need to truly correct the fault (at least in that person’s mind).
All of these things are emotional reactions and thus a sign of weakness, immaturity and foolishness. The challenge is will you react emotionally when corrected? Or will you ignore that initial emotional reaction and take an honest look at yourself in light of that correction?
I can bring up another example from my writing life. Let’s take my first book, The Proverbs Guide to Love. The first editions carried many errors, so I hired a professional editor. After a few weeks, I got my manuscript back. What did I find? Over a hundred corrections, grammar fixes, sentence syntax corrections, advice on better wording, recommendations on synonyms, etc.
Do you think when I got those edits back, I said, “Who does she think she is? My freshman year writing teacher said I was a great writer!”
I was grateful. On a side note, errors fill the first drafts of many writers. I was thankful someone took time to go through my book (word for word), speaking it aloud, to catch every error she could. It helped me be a better writer.
As a writer, you become too close to your work, whether it is a novel, script or whatever. As a result, you can’t see your own errors. When a good editor comes along, corrections of red ink can cover your pages. A manuscript can sometimes go through literally ten edits or more before finally hitting a first edition. This will not anger a good writer. The writer will realize it helps them be better at their craft. You are only as good as your editor.
Now how does editing relate to my message? To be honest, spiritual correction is not much different.
God places people in your life almost like spiritual editors. He places teachers, parents, pastors and Godly friends strategically, many times for your correction. This is for our equipping as Ephesians 4:11 says. 2 Timothy 3:16 says all Scripture is given by inspiration and profitable for reproof, correction and instruction. In order to do those things, you need a person to reproof, correct, and instruct.
In the same way writers become blind to their own grammatical errors, we become blind to our own spiritual errors. We need someone outside of ourselves, to come along side and point out the mistakes we made.
When correcting, we still need to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and instruct with gentleness (2 Timothy 2:25). If faultfinding or bitterness is our goal in correction, we need to reevaluate ourselves. Nevertheless, enablement is a form of hate. If a person truly loves you, they will not desire to see you continue on the wrong path. Correction is love.
I will end with Proverbs 27:5-6, which says open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.