“To admonish is better than to reproach for admonition is mild and friendly, but reproach is harsh and insulting; and admonition corrects those who are doing wrong, but reproach only convicts them.” – Epictetus
Admonition is an act of admonishing (firmly warning, reprimanding, advising, or urging someone). In this day and age, I’m not sure how welcome admonition is, but it was a tool of wisdom used in Scripture. In Colossians 3:16, admonition is one purpose behind the music we sing in gatherings, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” The Apostle Paul used admontion as a tool of correction to address people who were idle, irresponsible, undisciplined busybodies who did not contribute to the community, “And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” (2 Thes. 3:15) I wonder how that tactic would go over these days. Paul admonished the congregations under his apostleship not to shame them, but to warn them as his beloved children. (1 Cor. 4:14) He also encouraged the church in Rome that they were mature enough to admonish one another (Romans 15:14) Admonishment is not just reserved for leaders in churches.
The most well-known use of admonishment in Scripture is found in the address to fathers in Ephesians 6:4, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Contrary to what we see in popular culture, in Scripture the nurture: responsibility for caring, encouraging, and helping the growth and development of children AND admonition: warning, advising, reprimanding, and teaching them God’s commands, rests with the father. Paul told the church at Corinth, “though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.” 1 Corinthians 4:15 Teachers might not care enough to admonish these days and it’s super risky to do so even in church. Not many parents and leaders are willing to employ admonition even for the sake of the growth of those they lead— but this practice is sorely needed to see transformation in our families and churches.