by: FCC Staff
Art is often subjective. One person might look at a piece of artwork and shell out a small fortune so they can hang it on their wall to see it as often as they like. Others may look at the same piece of art with confusion wondering why anyone would spend money on something that looks like it could be made by any third grader with a canvas and finger paints.
While it is true for some forms of art that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, there are elements in society that are universally held in high regard and considered valuable. Gold is one such element. It has been used as a standard of value and wealth for years and years throughout the world, but it is also highly valued by people for the natural physical beauty that it possesses.
Our passage today likens the endearing beauty and value of gold to something equally as valuable: wise corrective counsel.
When contemplating our habit of correcting others, all of us fall along a continuum. Some people seem to embrace every opportunity to ‘help’ others by pointing out a fault in their life. On the other end of the spectrum are those who avoid at all costs any type of conflict or need to correct behavior in others. Where are you on the continuum? Whether we like it or not, Scripture indicates that correcting behavior and thought is a necessary part of life in a community.
We also have to remember that corrective counsel is not a one-way street; it involves a messenger and a receiver, or the one to whom the message is directed. Each person has a responsibility and role in the exchange. Solomon says that when done correctly, spiritual correction can have the same internally transformative effects as the physical ear adorned with ornate gold.
Let’s consider the messenger first. What is the responsibility of the messenger? Paul’s letters to Timothy, his child in the faith, provide us with several bits of wisdom to help shape our understanding. Paul wrote “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” (II Timothy 4:1-2)
Notice what the content of the message is - ‘the Word.’ It is not our opinions, our cultural norms, nor our preferences – it is ‘the word of God.’ This is a reinforcement of what Paul wrote just prior in chapter 3 – “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness…” (II Timothy 3:16).
A larger context of Paul’s writing to Timothy is being faithful to the word and understanding the weight of the responsibility that comes with handling the word of God. The first step in the spiritual correction process is to make an honest and humble examination of one’s own life first. Jesus gave the perfect example of not trying to pull the speck out of another’s eye while we have a plank in our own. Next, we must have in mind the goal of correction: growth, instruction, restoration, and repentance. (II Timothy 2:25, II Timothy 3:16, Galatians 6:1)
What about the receiver? What is their role? Simply put, it is to receive the word with a “listening ear” as Solomon puts it, which means an honest evaluation is called for. Are we humble enough to consider an instructive word? Do we desire to grow in our faith? Do I trust Scripture? When the right words (Scripture) are delivered in the right way (gentleness/humility) to a listening ear, an instructive message stands a good chance of being a thing of beauty and value for our life rather than falling on a deaf ear.
All followers of Jesus find themselves fulfilling both roles in the community of faith as they progress through the faith journey. Sometimes the Word of God compels us to be the corrector, and at other times we need correction. Whichever role you find yourself in, commit yourself to gentleness, humbleness, honesty, and openness to the Spirit’s presence in the process.
Prayer for Today
Heavenly Father, I thank you for your Word. Thank you for the truths you reveal to us through your Word that clearly instruct us how to live the life you desire for us on this earth. Help me to be a faithful follower of Christ who can both receive spiritual correction with the right attitude and who can offer spiritual advice with the right attitude. Amen