How To Receive Biblical Correction And Guidance
Updated: Mar 28, 2019
It’s hard to do.
It is usually hard to receive biblical correction and guidance. While we should be happy and thankful to receive it, most usually aren’t. Why is that? Probably because of our pride and wounded ego. When a student at Talbot Seminary, I was interviewed by a reporter from our school newspaper. He wanted to learn and report on my time as an intern with speaker and author Josh McDowell.
But by the end of the interview he proclaimed, “You know what. You have a problem.” I didn’t want to hear what he had to say, because I was pretty sure he was telling me I was prideful and arrogant. He never ran the story. It was embarrassing.
A few years before that I was confronted about the way I was talking. I was saying “Hallelujah” in a flippant way. A fellow student confronted me with the fact that the word hallelujah is derived from two Hebrew words: praise and Yahweh or God. I was, in effect, using God’s name in vain and therefore breaking one of the 10 Commandments.
In both of these cases I was not happy to receive biblical correction. But in retrospect, both were doing me a service.
On the other hand, sometimes I’ve been confronted with accusations that were off-base and even unbiblical. Some people just want to cast aspersions, put others down or start an argument.
In a recent article, I shared about How to Share Biblical Correction and Guidance.
In this article, I’d like to share about the other side of the coin.
Here are three ways to receive biblical correction and guidance:
1. Be thankful for it.
As mentioned in my last article, for most people it is not pleasant to confront a friend. I never enjoy it. But in love I try to do as Scripture instructs and share Biblical correction when needed.
Because it’s not easy to do, when someone has the courage to lovingly confront us, we should be thankful.
“Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:6 NLT)
By being thankful, I mean being thankful BOTH inwardly and outwardly. Inwardly, I remind myself that a friend has done something to try to help me. Outwardly, I try to say something like, “Thank you for having the courage to share that with me. I will give it careful consideration.” Or, “I’m grateful that you would care enough to share that with me.”
Of course, sometimes anger flares up and my first response is not gratitude, it is frustration and righteous indignation. In those moments, I have to say a prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to help me control my emotions.
Early in ministry I was confronted by some of the people in our little church plant. I got mad and responded in anger. Later, when I talked with my mentor, Bob Logan, he helped me realize I had done the wrong thing. I swallowed my pride and apologized for my un-Christ-like behavior.
Unfortunately, when I apologized, the woman abruptly hung up the phone on me! I was surprised and hurt by such a rude response to my apology. Later I realized that her unkind response wasn’t my responsibility. As long as I did the right thing, I had done all I could do.
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18 ESV)
2. Pray over it.
Often our immediate response when we receive biblical correction is more emotional than rational. Like in the story above, we want to lash out in anger and frustration, rather than a careful and considerate response.
The answer is to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you about the situation.
Sometimes I’ve said something like, “Thanks for your observation and challenge. I will pray over it and seek guidance from the Lord about what to do.”
Why pray about it?
First, because we need the Lord to soften our heart to receive biblical correction and guidance.
“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV)
Second, we should pray because we need wisdom from on high to know how to respond.
“And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.” (1 Corinthians 2:12 NLT)
3. Mine the nuggets of gold from it.
Here’s what I believe: “In every criticism there is a nugget of gold that we can mine from it.”
We might think that a criticism is 100% unfounded and untrue. However, we can still mine some gold from it, even if the only nugget is to understand how we are misunderstood.
As a young pastor, I was accused of being unloving and uncaring. Ouch! I was flabbergasted. I felt the accusation was totally untrue. How could someone even suggest that?
But I came to realize that what they were telling me is that somehow I was not showing my love and care. I was perceived as unloving and uncaring. Therefore, my gold nugget was that I needed to show my love and care more. It was a helpful revelation.
I’m not suggesting that looking for a nugget in every criticism is easy. In fact, it is often very hard to receive unfounded criticism and find the gold nugget in it. The way we can do so is to humble ourselves through the power of the Holy Spirit.
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.” (1 Peter 5:6 ESV)
It is often helpful to consider what percentage of the criticism is true. I might say to myself, “I think that criticism is about half true, or 75% true, or only 10% true.” Then I thank God for whatever truth is in it and move on. I weigh the importance of the part that is true and seek to respond accordingly.
Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket.” (Proverbs 25:11 NLT)
How have you responded when asked to receive biblical correction and guidance?
Your thoughts are welcome! Please leave your comment below.
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