In verse 14 of this chapter, Paul gives the Roman church some words of encouragement, praising them for being full of goodness and knowledge, and able to instruct each other. Perhaps this is because he has spoken some words of correction to them in this letter. He says himself that he has written “quite boldly on some matters” to remind them of those subjects again.
Even though the Roman Christians were knowledgeable and established in the faith, they still needed to be reminded of some basic truths, and to be brought back on track in some areas. I wonder how they received Paul’s letter. Did they feel indignant that they were receiving a lecture because they thought themselves more mature and knowledgeable than others? Or did they receive Paul’s words with grace, accepting his reminders and corrections, and committing to put his words into action?
Pride gets in the way of accepting correction, but Proverbs 3:12 tells us: “For whom the Lord loves He reproves.” In Timothy’s second letter, he explained that “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16). Willingness to be corrected is absolutely essential if we are to become mature as Christians. However mature we think we are, if we are not willing to be corrected, then we are probably less mature than we think.
As we work towards unity among believers, we can also work towards being able to both give and receive correction graciously. If we see a problem, our first step must be to try to understand it. There may be a perfectly reasonable explanation. If not, then we can supportively identify the difficulty and offer a helpful solution. Our purpose must always be to build up and not to tear down.
It is certain that at some point in our lives, we will need to take correction, and to give correction. May we be willing to do both in humility and with grace and love.