1 Corinthians 11:28–32. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
I would like to spend some time discussing a sensitive subject: Correction (Rebuke, Reproof). I have taken some time off from posting in order to spend time studying. My goal was to come up with some good topics that would pierce the hearts of my readers- instead I have walked right into scriptures that have pierced my own heart. God has definitely spoken to me through this study.
I have broken this study down into three segments. This first part is about our own attitudes toward rebuke, correction, and examination. The second will focus on our responsibility in correcting others. And the last will look at the scoffer- one who absolutely refuses correction. In order to fully appreciate what God says on this subject, I need to point out that I am not going to be able to shed light on all aspects of God’s word. You will need to do some of your own reading and studying in order to know God’s word in your heart- and hear what God is speaking to you. [2 Timothy 3:16] Remember Psalm 95:7-8 when it says, “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts”. [Hebrews 4:7]
The scripture above (1 Corinthians 11:28-32) is speaking about the Lord’s Table. The purpose of this event (what we call communion) was to remember Christ. It was to be a ceremony, where great care was taken in eating and drinking, in remembrance of Christ’s body and blood. When, in fact, the Corinthians were coming to the table in disorderly fashion, eating and drinking, and getting drunk. It was not out of respect for God, but out of self service. Paul is trying to teach that when we come to the table of the Lord, and have wrong motives, or wrong attitudes, we will be subject to the chastisement of God. The KJV Bible Commentary says, “’If we would judge ourselves’ corresponds to self-examination. The benefit of such examination is ‘that we should not be judged’. Paul gives his readers a choice. They may either exercise their own judgment upon themselves, or they may await God’s judgment.”
We are, in fact, to look upon our own hearts and correct our own behavior- if we don’t, God will.
When it comes to correction, God is clear about what our attitudes should be. We are to accept it. If we don’t, we bring destruction and pain on ourselves. To accept correction means we not only love God, but that we love our very soul.
Proverbs 10:17. He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, But he who refuses correction goes astray.
Proverbs 12:1– Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid.
Proverbs 13:18 Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored.
Proverbs 15:5 A fool despises his father’s instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is prudent.
Proverbs 15:10 There is severe discipline for him who forsakes the way; whoever hates reproof will die.
Proverbs 15:32. He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, but he who heeds rebuke gets understanding.
Proverbs 17:10 A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.
Psalm 141:5. Let the righteous strike me; It shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; It shall be as excellent oil; Let my head not refuse it.
Matthew Henry said, “But if the reproof be just, though the reprover be not so, we must make a good use of it and learn obedience by it”. Here he is saying that when it comes to correction it’s not the messenger that matters, it’s the message. God speaks to us, even through unbelievers. Matthew Henry goes on to say, “[reproofs] are means of good to us, to bring us to repentance for the sins we have committed, and to prevent relapses into sin. Though reproofs cut, it is in order to a cure, and therefore they are much more desirable than the kisses of an enemy (Prov. 27:6)” When others correct us, we are not to see it as a means of abuse or injury- but rather, as a means to draw us closer to God, by removing the things that separate us from Him, and other believers.
KJV Bible Commentary says, “The man who hears reproof recognizes a responsibility to protect the eternal dimension of his soul life. The best way to protect the soul from destruction is to embrace the fear of the Lord in every moment. Abiding in that fear, the man of wisdom affirms that it is in accord with wisdom to humbly acknowledge one’s mistakes and faults. A man must receive admonition as coming from the Lord himself, for humility is before honor.” In other words, when we receive correction, whether from someone else, or from ourselves, we are to receive it as coming from God. There is no honor in being prideful or stubborn when it comes to our mistakes. Humbly admitting to, and receiving correction for, our mistakes is a sign of wisdom.
Matthew Henry reiterates this when he says, “The wisdom of those that are willing, not only to be taught, but to be reproved (“He that hears reproof”), and amends the faults he is reproved for, “gets understanding”, by which his soul is secured from bad ways and directed in good ways, and thereby he both evidences the value he has for his own soul and puts true honour upon it.”
Correction is necessary for spiritual growth. God intends for us to learn, gain understanding, and move closer to him, each time we correct our faults. Next time you receive correction, whether from God, or from someone else, humbly pray for guidance and wisdom, and accept it graciously, without complaint. You will find that it brings tremendous blessing.