Read: Romans 15:14-16
Correction and I have never had a good rapport. I am unbearably obstinate when it comes to giving or receiving instruction. When I was in high school, I became friends with a guy who emotionally was not in a good place. While it is good to make friends with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, it’s smart to set up healthy boundaries to protect both you and the other individual. In hindsight, I understand that now, but at the time, setting up boundaries seemed like the most unloving thing I could do for him.
Too quickly, our friendship started to reach an unhealthy point because I spent every waking minute I had trying to coax him into happiness. Eventually, we built up a harmful codependency on each other, and his depression allowed me to sink into a depression of my own. Emotionally, I was a trainwreck. Little did I know that listening to the instruction of my mother (more on that later) throughout that friendship could’ve helped me avoid much pain and heartache.
In Romans 15:14-16, Paul compliments the Romans for being full of goodness and knowledge, and for instructing each other (15:14). Notice how goodness, knowledge, and instruction go hand in hand.
Instruction must first come from a place of goodness. My mom advised me to set boundaries with my friend. And her heart’s motivation was filled to the brim with goodness. She longed to see me grow in maturity and wisdom, and believed that instructing me away from my ignorance would help me do so. As believers, we should never instruct or correct out of anger or pride, but in goodness, we must always seek the well-being of others.
Additionally, instruction must come from a place of knowledge. You see, my mom had lived through unhealthy relationships like the one I was now navigating through, so she knew things would end up poorly if I did not follow her instructions. The knowledge my mother possessed was two-fold: yes, she had firsthand experience with what I was going through, but she also carried with her a knowledge of the Scriptures. Only after studying the Scriptures for herself and learning through trial and error, was she able to wisely instruct me.
In Romans, Paul shows us that instruction is honorable, but, if it isn’t coupled with goodness and knowledge, it can be harmful. Both are needed in order to wisely instruct fellow believers in righteousness. Instruction with goodness, but not knowledge, is called folly. You may have the best intentions in the world and love the person you’re instructing with all the affection of Christ, but if you do not have knowledge, your instruction is ultimately meaningless. In the same way, instruction with knowledge, but not goodness, is not from the heart of Christ. All throughout the Scriptures, we see how Jesus constantly corrected his disciples, but always out of love for them. Brothers and sisters, let us seek to mirror the image of Christ this week by correcting each other in the grace and truth that is from our Lord!
Are both goodness and knowledge reflected in your speech? How have you seen goodness and knowledge in the instruction you’ve received from others? How do you see Christ show goodness and knowledge in His instructing of others in the Scriptures? And how can you instruct others that need both your goodness and your knowledge?