The bible has a lot to say about the importance of receiving correction well. Consider the following verses just from the Book of Proverbs:
- Rebuke a mocker and he will hate you; rebuke a wise man and he will love you—Proverbs 9:8-9
- Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid—Proverbs 12:1
- He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored—Proverbs 13:18
- A fool spurns discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence—Proverbs 15:5
- He who hates correction will die—Proverbs 15:10b
- He who listens to a life-giving rebuke will be at home among the wise—Proverbs 15:31-32
- A rebuke impresses a man of discernment more than a hundred lashes a fool—Proverbs 17:10
- Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise—Proverbs 19:20
- Rebuke a discerning man, and he will gain knowledge—Proverbs 19:25b
- When a wise man is instructed, he gets knowledge—Proverbs 21:11b
- Like a an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man’s rebuke to a listening ear—Proverbs 25:12
- A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed – without remedy—Proverbs 29:1
Two recent examples of people receiving correction well…
A young man asked me to listen to a message he preached. I was a little hesitant to do so for two reasons:
- What if I leave him discouraged about doing something God’s called him to do, or encouraged to do something he’s not called to do?
- Many times when people say they want constructive criticism, they don’t. Maybe they think they do, but when they hear it they get upset or defensive.
But since I’ve truly appreciated people who have given me positive and negative feedback on my messages, I consented. While there were some good things about the message, I also thought there were some clear weaknesses. I wrote the person about it and was as honest as possible. When I didn’t receive a response, I assumed the worst. Then I received a very appreciative message. I was impressed and encouraged.
The other situation involved someone with habitual sin in his life. At best he’s backslidden, but more than likely he’s not a Christian. I sent the person a message explaining that when people are saved, there should be evidence. Then I waited for the typical reply: hostility, excuses, justification, anger, “quit judging me,” etc. Instead, reply was, “Thank you so much. I needed to hear this. I don’t want to live this way anymore.” The best part is over the following weeks the person repented and made appropriate changes.
For every example of people receiving correction well…
Unfortunately, for every situation like these two, the opposite also takes place. People don’t have the humility or spiritual maturity to receive correction well. I’ll be the first to say this has been the case in my life too. When we see how much emphasis Scripture places on receiving correction well, how much effort should we put forth to respond well? Instead of pride and humility, we should say, “Thank you for telling me. I’m sure this wasn’t easy. I’m glad you cared enough about me to talk to me about this weakness of mine.”
- Can you share a time you or someone else responded well to correction? Perhaps a time you or someone responded poorly?
- What steps can we take to make sure we receive correction well?