Responding to Correction – October 9, 2020

One week ago today, the Supreme Court in Michigan ruled that the Governor had overstepped her authority with the extended emergency declaration. While we still wait to see what this means for our everyday life, we can learn from the fallout about the proper way to respond to correction. In our jobs, in our homes, in our church, we all struggle with responding to correction properly. Inevitably, we will respond to correction in one (or more) of three ways: Denial, blame, or humility.

The response by our governor, and often by many of us to correction is one of denial. We claim that we were not in fact wrong. The other person has no idea what they are talking about. The one correcting us is, in fact, the one who is wrong. Yet this is the mark of foolishness. Proverbs has much to say on this subject. Proverbs 15:32, “Whoever ignores instruction despises himself.” Proverbs 13:1, “a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.” Proverbs 13:13, “Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself.” Scripture states that we despise ourselves because we are not giving ourselves the opportunity to grow. In our arrogance, we believe that we have everything together. So, we scoff at those who would correct us. We despise their statements. And we are worse off for it. When your boss, spiritual leader, or family members bring correction, don’t dismiss it out of hand. This is the sign of foolishness.

A second response to correction is a response of blame. We see this most clearly in three Biblical narratives. In Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve directly disobeyed the command of God and in an effort to become gods themselves, they hid in shame. When they were confronted by God, their response was not one of accepting responsibility. Rather, their response was one of blame. Genesis 3:12-13, The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Notice that Adam blames Eve and has the audacity to blame God himself. Eve blames the snake. No one accepts responsibility. Twice in 1 Samuel, Saul blames others for his own sin. In 1 Samuel 13, Saul made an unlawful sacrifice (putting himself in the place of the prophet) and then blamed Samuel for being late. In 1 Samuel 15, Saul disobeyed God’s command and then blamed his people for his sin. As a result, God removed the kingdom from Saul and his family and gave it to David. When we are corrected, we must be careful not to blame others for our sin.

The biblical response to correction is humility. Proverbs 9:9, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.” Proverbs 10:8, “The wise of heart will receive commandments.” Proverbs 13;1, “A wise son hears his father’s instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.” Proverbs 13:13, “Whoever despises the word[e] brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.” Proverbs 15:32, “Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.” A wise man once told me that every correction has at least a grain of truth in it. A wise man will seize that grain of truth and grow.

It takes humility to admit that we are wrong. Yet, God grants grace to those who are humble. The next time you are corrected, respond with humility. Don’t bristle. Don’t get angry. Don’t ignore the correction. Don’t blame others. Humble yourself and accept the correction. Only then can we grow in our walk with God.