"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts... And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom." — Colossians 3:15-16
In the old Disney classic Bambi, Bambi's friend Thumper makes a wise statement that we should all take to heart at times. He admonishes Bambi, saying, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Thumper's words are appropriate advice for gossipy people, but they don't always apply to healthy relationships. There are times when something "not so nice" needs to be said.
Seeking to be faithful followers of Christ Jesus, it's our responsibility to speak the truth in love. Christ's command to "love one another" addresses us as members of a body with deep concern for one another. "Teach and admonish," as our text puts it, could also be translated as "teach and instruct" or "teach and counsel." It's a matter of pointing one another in the right direction, based on a genuine concern for people's well-being. And it must be carried out with the right motives, or our advice won't be heard. It requires an attitude of humility.
Living together in unity and harmony calls for bearing with each other and forgiving one another. We forgive because the Lord has forgiven us. Love binds all these actions together, making it possible for Christ's peace to rule in our hearts. Whenever we speak, may we do so with love, and bring peace.
Lord, help us to look into our own hearts for the right motive when we find we must instruct or admonish a fellow believer. We ask for your wisdom and humility, your love, and your peace. Amen.