Ad·mon·ish /ədˈmäniSH/ – Verb: To remind, reprove, or urge to right action, in a mild and good-willed manner, for a person's well-being.
First among the spiritual works of mercy, along with instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful, comforting the sorrowful, bearing wrongs patiently, forgiving injury, and praying for the living and the dead, is admonishing the sinner. It is a work of mercy because, when offered in loving kindness, in humility and for a person's well being, it can be of great assistance. When we remember who we are, in God's eyes, it can change the way we behave towards ourselves and each other. According to the Bible, sometimes, it's better not to argue, though:
Scripture References on Avoiding Admonishing Fools
The Bible is clear: it's useless (or even counterproductive) to admonish a fool:
- Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words. – Prov 23:9
- Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. What's worse, if you answer a fool according to his folly, he may be wise in his own conceit. – Prov 26:4-5
- Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding. – Prov 9:6
- Let a bear robbed of her whelps meet a man, rather than a fool in his folly. – Prov 17:12 (better to meet an angry bear than a fool in folly).
- The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise. – Prov 12:15
- Understanding is a wellspring of life unto him that hath it: but the instruction of fools is folly. – Prov 16:22
- Cast not your pearls before swine… Matt. 7:6
When in doubt, it's always wise to save the overt admonishing for those who are genuinely seeking guidance, wisdom and correction. Your behavior, though, can also work as an admonishment. When you choose to leave a room, or not to participate in an unjust action, or not to laugh at a harmful joke, you are living in a way that quietly, and gently, admonishes. You're taking a leadership role, and performing a spiritual act of worship. The results will ripple out in ways you may never fully understand.
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WebDefs – simple definitions of key terms relating to ministry and healing arts – are a regular feature of NHM Ministrants. Offered (where applicable) in conjunction with select key scriptural passages and analysis, WebDefs can be a useful starting place for exploring a topic of interest.