Able to admonish
Able also to admonish one another - Romans. 15:14
When we look at the Greek word behind “admonish,” we see that it is one of those rich words that carries more meaning for a single English word to do it justice. The ESV translates it “instruct.” That’s also a good translation. But it can also mean to counsel, to teach, or to warn. It is the word noutheteo, which some of you will recognize as the Greek word behind “nouthetic” as in nouthetic counseling. It was the word that Jay Adams chose as the term that most closely described what he believed the church wasn’t doing but needed to be doing. It is the word behind the modern Biblical counseling movement.
For that reason, I think “intervention” is also a good word that describes what that apostle is wanting us to do. By intervention, I mean getting in each other’s lives to help each other along the way – like Christian and Faithful in Pilgrims Progress. It is part of being a community (Heb. 10:24). The Christian life is begun and carried on in community (1 Pet. 2:22), just as the natural life begins in the context of a family. We intervene in this sense in each other’s lives, not by being busybodies or putting our noses into business that is not our own, but by encouraging and exhorting and instructing each other.
In other words, the goodness we grow in and the knowledge we gain is not just for ourselves. We are to leverage these gifts of grace for the wider Christian church. We are not to keep goodness or knowledge for ourselves but to pass them along to others, not to show off but for the purpose of helping others. Our lives are to be lights so that others see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven (Mt. 5:16). Our words are to be filled with grace that edify others (Eph. 4:29). The church is growing and healthy when we are working together to grow up into Christ (Eph. 4:16). If we want to, then there has to be this kind of intervention in our lives.
As a church, we should be actively seeking these things both individually and collectively. Don’t let the cares of the world keep you from making this a priority. We are to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Mt. 6:33), and part of that seeking is pursing goodness and knowledge and admonishing each other. May the Lord make it so for his glory and our good.