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Posts Tagged ‘correction’

confront

In 2 Corinthians chapter 10, Paul brought to light the spiritual nature of all the conflict happening in the Corinthian Church in an effort to point to the solution.  The solution he gave was the divine power of God to destroy strongholds, in other words, our spiritual weapons.  He began to defend himself in the face of much slander and personal attacks.

In chapters 11 and 12, we find Paul dealing with specific reasons why he personally was being maligned and the truth of what was going on in this corrupt church.  He begins seeking to unmask the dark realities by stating facts and asking questions that point to the truth of who he had been to them and who he was.  He calls it foolish because he is humble.  Humble men don’t usually go around listing their qualifications, but here we find that sometimes just that is necessary for the sake of the gospel.

Paul fears that the Corinthians were being deceived to believe in a different Jesus and a different gospel.  He is showing the foolishness of their willingness to accept false brothers and false teaching but not him and his truth!  His argument is that they would put up with falsehood and not say a word in opposition or correction.  They were embracing these false men as brothers while at the very same time refusing to accept and embrace Paul.  Against Paul, they railed.  Why?

The accusation made against Paul was that he did not speak right.  Unskilled speech.  He looks wrong.  Frivolous, differing preferences was all they could come up with against Paul.

If you want to avoid the truth someone is telling, personal attacks are all you have.

Paul answers those dumb objections and reasons to refuse him saying: “Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things. “ 2 Corinthians 11:6

In verses 7-11 Paul states the facts that he had taken nothing from them and that he had given much to them.  He had gotten his needs met elsewhere and found a way to meet their needs without asking for payment.  He assures them that he was not going to be quiet about what he was about to say.  He knows they are going to claim that he is saying it because he does not love them so he puts that accusation to rest from the get-go.  He professes his great, enduring, long-suffering love and offers the proof as the fact that he preached to them for free, always.  He preached out of love and without asking for any return save their souls.  He wanted them to be saved and that was his only motivation.  Others wanted pay and position for what he did for them for free out of love.

Paul makes it clear that he is going to keep doing exactly what he had been doing in order to prove the false claims of the false followers who were maligning him false.

He says, these men boast of being servants of Christ!  Even if they truly were or are, so am I!  Why, then do you so despise and abuse me?  That is a question that begs an answer.  Christ’s ministers do not abuse and malign one another no matter how different they are.  Like mama said, it takes all kinds.  There is room for all in Christ.

So these guys are seeking to divide and Paul is seeking to unify – even though the opposite is being said of him and of them.

“I repeat, let no one think me foolish.  But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little.” 2 Corinthians 11:16

He’s like, “Hey! you let other fools come in here and talk all the nonsense they want.  Can I have a turn?!”

“He gives a good reason why they should suffer him to boast a little; namely, because they suffered others to do so who had less reason…Or these words, ‘You suffer fools gladly, seeing you yourselves are wise,’ may be ironical, and then the meaning is this: ‘Notwithstanding all your wisdom, you willingly suffer yourselves to be brought into bondage under the Jewish yoke, or suffer others to tyrannize over you; nay, to devour you, or make a prey of you, and take of you hire for their own advantage, and to exalt themselves above you, and lord it over you; nay, even to smite you on the face, or impose upon you to your very faces, upbraiding you while they reproach me, as if you had been very weak in showing regard to me.’  Seeing this was the case, that the Corinthians, or some among them, could so easily bear all this from the false apostles, it was reasonable for the apostle to desire, and expect, they should bear with what might seem to them an indiscretion in him, seeking the circumstances of the case were such as made it needful that whereinsoever any were bold he should be bold also.” ~Matthew Henry

Paul goes on to say exactly who he is beginning in verse 21.  They say they come from Abraham?  So do I!  They say serve Christ?  So do I!  They say they suffered for the gospel?  So have I!  Even more so no doubt!  Consider the facts, friends.

“He chiefly insists upon this, that he had been an extraordinary sufferer for Christ.  Note, When the apostle would prove himself an extraordinary minister, he proves that he had been an extraordinary sufferer.” Matthew Henry

Paul had suffered greatly for the Lord and no one could deny him that boast.  There was not a weak or scandalized Christian alive whom Paul could not sympathize with.

In chapter 12, Paul goes on to share of his visitations from God.  One would think with such great visions and revelations he would have been focusing constantly and speaking always of these things, but no.  Paul is humble and only speaks of them for their betterment in this case.  He speaks more so of his suffering so that the power of Christ may rest upon him.  (2 Corinthians 12:9)  From this we glean that speaking of our own weaknesses candidly causes the power of Christ to rest upon us.

Lastly, he states his concern.  He’s like, “Hey!  I’m not inferior to these boasting “apostles.”  God gave signs and wonders and works through me even though I am nothing.  Yet you fail to trust and love me while loving those who deceive you and malign both me and the gospel.  Listen to his plea of love toward them:

“Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less? 16 But granting that I myself did not burden you, I was crafty, you say, and got the better of you by deceit. 17 Did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not act in the same spirit? Did we not take the same steps?” 2 Corinthians 12:14-18

I can hear his desperation saying, “I love you!!!  I don’t want your money!  But because of my generosity you distrust me?  Because I love you so much you love me less that those who do seek to rule and deceive and take from you?”

“He blames them for what was faulty in them; namely, that they had not stood up in his defense as they ought to have done, and so made it more needful for him to insist so much on his own vindication.  They in manner compelled him to commend himself…Note, it is a debt we owe to good men to stand up in defense of their reputation; and we are under special obligations to those we have received benefit by, especially spiritual benefit, to own them as instruments in God’s hand of good to us, and to vindicate them when they are calumniated by others…so far he was from seeking praise from men, though he tells them their duty to vindicate his reputation – so far was he from applauding himself, when he was forced to insist upon his own necessary self-defense.” Matthew Henry

Paul indicts them on the charge that they should have been sticking up for him.  For the truth he was teaching.  But they were not.  He makes it clear that he is not defending himself, rather trying to teach them for their own good and for the edification of the whole body.  He is begging them to listen.

 

 

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thirst

Hunger is a strange feeling.  It is a wanting after waiting; a need that becomes louder and louder until it is satisfied.

Often, we try to fill our spiritual hunger with physical food (or other things.)  It is when I am spiritually hungry that I tend to “stress eat.”  I find myself losing control of my diet when I hunger and thirst most for righteousness.  Nothing proves this truer than fasting because fasting reveals to us all the things we are wanting that eating physical food is substituting for.

I have recently felt a strong spiritual need to become physically hungry again.  Self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and I am praying that the Lord helps me with this struggle.

In doing so, the first place I turned was to Matthew 5 – to the beatitudes.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied… “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” ~Matthew 5:6, 11-12

We are blessed – living in the favor of God – when we are hungry for the right things.  Unfortunately, as history makes abundantly clear, those who were most hungry for righteousness (the prophets) were also most hated by men.

I began to study about some specific incidences of when prophets were hated and abused and I landed at 2 Kings 2:23-25.

 “He went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” 24 And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys.25 From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria.” ~2 Kings 2:23-25

There is a lot to be said about this brief interaction which conveys many insights as to God’s character.

Earlier in this chapter, we find that there was a problem with the water supply in Jericho where the prophet Elisha was.

19 Now the men of the city said to Elisha, “Behold, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees, but the water is bad, and the land is unfruitful.” 20 He said, “Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him. 21 Then he went to the spring of water and threw salt in it and said, “Thus says the Lord, I have healed this water; from now on neither death nor miscarriage shall come from it.” 22 So the water has been healed to this day, according to the word that Elisha spoke.” ~2 Kings 2:19-22

Interestingly, Jericho was the city where walls had been built and the people had isolated themselves – locked themselves in so they would not be ruled by God or by His people.  God used unorthodox methods to both bring down the walls and to prove the faith of His people.

So there’s a lesson for us.  It doesn’t matter how strong and tall your walls are, if they are made to resist God, they will soon be broken down.

Later, God cursed the man who rebuilt Jericho and killed his children.  Now, years later, we find Jericho still having problems.  The water supply was tainted and unusable.  The prophet Elisha was asked to help and the Lord healed the water through him.  That brings us to the incident at hand.

Apparently, it was commonplace in this area to mock and scoff at the prophets.  These people hated reproof and correction – so much so that they taught their children to upbraid them.  So common this practice had become of hating and mocking the prophets that even the children had no fear or respect for them.

If it had been the first time, the punishment likely would not have been so severe.  But it was doubtless commonplace to tear down the character of God’s prophets because they so hated correction.

Though the boys were small, they were not afraid or ashamed before God’s prophet.  Matthew Henry says this:

“Elisha heard their taunts, a good while, with patience; but at length the fire of holy zeal for God was kindled in his breast by the continued provocation, and he turned and looked upon them, to try if a grave and severe look would put them out of countenance and oblige them to retire, to see if he could discern in their faces any marks of ingenuousness; but they were not ashamed, neither could they blush; and therefore he cursed them in the name of the Lord, both imprecated and denounced the following judgment, not in personal revenge for the indignity done to himself, but as the mouth of divine justice to punish the dishonor done to God…We may think it would have been better to have called for two rods for the correction of these children than two bears for the destruction of them.  But Elisha knew, by the Spirit, the bad character of these children.  He knew what a generation of vipers those were, and what mischievous enemies they would be to God’s prophets if they should live to be men, who began so early to be abusive to them.  He intended hereby to punish the parents and to make them afraid of God’s judgments.” 

So then, 42 children died for their unruly disobedience and unwillingness to respect and love the prophet and his godly correction.  It was a judgment and a punishment for the parents who allowed such brazen disrespect and abuse to be heaped upon the one chosen to be God’s voice to them.

So my question for myself and for everyone else today is are you hungry for righteousness?  For truth?  For justice?  How hungry?  If you are, expect to be treated poorly – misrepresented, mocked, made fun of, rejected, and even hated.  God says it is all a blessing, though.

On the other hand, if you are the one mocking and hating a person of God for the truth they tell you, be warned.  God is sending that person for your good, because he loves you so much.  His patience will run out eventually and, as the scripture says, at that time there is no remedy.

15 The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy. ~2 Chronicles 36:15-16

 

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brat

My one year-old has begun to learn how to test her limits.  As she turns quickly into a full-fledged, card-carrying toddler, she has decided she wants to see just how much she can get away with and just how far she can go without suffering punishment or unfavorable consequences.

All babies do this.  All toddlers, children, and teenagers do this.  Young adults do this.  Even elderly people do this and many do it for the duration of their lives in relation to God.  It is not usually a good sign, but it can be a good indication of where a person is in maturity.

“Sonny, no, no!” I say firmly as she pulls my earring.

We’ve had this interaction before, many times.  I have taken out my earrings and showed her.  I have given language lessons on how to pronounce the word, “ear-ring.”  I have emphatically told her with as much clarity as humanly possible the word, “NO” on many occasions when her little fingers have purposely found these friends who take up residence in my ears.  Still, there is just something irresistible about giving a good yank and feeling the success and satisfaction of holding the shiny piece of metal in her tiny hand once she’s pulled it completely out of my ear.

Yesterday was no different.  All was well in the world of baby blanket peek-a-boo and near naptime nummies until Sonny saw the silver booty sparkling like a new stairwell to climb.  The promise of victory was simply too tempting.  How could she be expected to obey?

She pulled down and I, once again, calmly, but sternly, corrected.

“No, no, Sonny!  That is ouchy.”

She waited.  She played more blanket-boo.  Then, she decided she would see if anything bad really would happen if she deliberately disobeyed again.

This time she pulled much harder and it really was ouchy.  After my yelp of pain, I smacked her fingers and said, “No, no, Sonny!  That is bad!”

At that, she buried her face in the pillow.  She did not cry.  She hid.  She knew what she had done.  She knew better.  She was either ashamed or she was upset that she’d not gotten away with it this time.  She was embarrassed that she’d been harshly corrected because harsh correction, though sometimes very necessary, is never pleasant.  Nevertheless, when injury to another or potential injury to another or self is imminent and one has been repeatedly told and corrected calmly, there is no choice but to correct in a more severe way.  The goal is caution.  The purpose is to arrest repeated bad behavior lest it cause more severe injury and more severe punishment.

No one particularly likes to discipline their children.  It is not pleasant because the love we have for them causes us pain when they are hurt or upset, too.  Yet, we must be faithful to correct disobedience in order to protect and save them from future harm.

It is one thing when we correct our children.  It is quite another when someone else corrects them.

If I do not do my job in properly training, correcting, and disciplining my children – sometimes even if I do – others will find it necessary – other parents, other teachers, other law enforcement agents eventually.  If it is not pleasant for me to do so, consider how unpleasant it will be for me when someone else does it.  Now, not only is my child suffering for disobedience, I am as well, and both of us at the correction of a stranger.

We have all seen it.  A mother or a father pays no mind to the poor behavior of his or her child and then someone comes along and corrects that child for causing injury or chaos on the playground.  This is an unusually awkward situation.  Little Susie (AKA Captain Destructo) is under parental jurisdiction but the parent is AWOL.  It leaves no choice for the more mature and attentive parents in the vicinity of Captain Destructo Susie to step up and intervene before (or after!) their children become hurt or victimized by her bad behavior.

Often, this results in Susie’s parent becoming angry.  The reason Suzie’s parent is mad is the issue of pride.  They did not do their job so someone else had to.  They either thought Susie more valuable and important than all the other children she was hurting or they thought themselves more important than even their own child.  It is likely a little – or a lot – of both.  These things were proven true by their choosing to ignore her bad behavior and selfishly avoid conflict with the child and also failing to take personal responsibility for the correction and discipline of their own family member.

A humble parent, on the other hand, will be thankful and appreciative when their child is corrected by another concerned authority.  The reason is because we know that obedience to authority is protection for our beloved children and a training ground for God’s authority in their lives.  This is doubtless the reason the Word of God instructs us – His children – to exhort one another daily.  Daily!  Every.  Single.  Day.

Consider that next time someone exhorts you or a member of your family for pulling down and pain-making in someone else’s life.  It is not just children who need corrected.  It is not just children who repeatedly test limits, hurt others, and fail to listen to repeated warnings.  There is a time for alarm, caution, and increasing corrective severity when important warnings are not heeded.

Pride is angry when corrected.  Humility is thankful.

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police

“Others first.”

“Listen, don’t talk.”

“Did you obey?”

“Don’t hit!”

These are my very famous one-liners.  Officer Mom always gets the last word when it comes to conflict between four sisters. I feel like I say these things so repeatedly that maybe they do not mean what I think they mean.

Funny, I wanted to be a police officer at one point. God said, “No.”  Could this be him fulfilling the desires of my heart?  Maybe he is just showing me why it wasn’t what I really wanted!

When the children were young, I always tried to keep it simple.  Now that three of my four are getting a little older, I find that my one-liner toddler tips are still my go-to’s.

I don’t mean to insult my kids’ intelligence.  The truth is that conflict has nothing to do with intelligence.  It has to do with the heart.  And the heart, my friends, is a hard nut to crack.  Not complicating interpersonal conflict within our family often means that we must deal with the heart in very direct ways much more often than we must deal with the details of how those hearts got there.  My goal is always to convey a clear, concise message that gets to the very heart of whatever sibling issue we are facing.  Therefore, these short responses to conflict are meant to make my daughters think about their own heart and help them understand where the root problem really is.

When one won’t share and the other is indignant, “Others first” addresses both hearts.  When one talks over another, interrupts, or disregards what the other is saying in order to share what seems far more important to them, “Listen, don’t talk” is a good place to start to check motives.  When there are excuses flying like 747’s through my living room, “Did you obey?” answers them all.  When emotions are high and smooth sounding justification is brewing on all sides, “Don’t hit” is the best I can do to keep the peace.

Interestingly, it usually is not the one who is most “wrong” in the conflict who gets punished.  It is the one who resorts to unchecked selfishness, uncontrolled rage, or unrepentant attitudes that gets the most severe discipline. It becomes less about what happened and more about what is happening…because what is happening tells me a lot about what happened. 

There are reasons I choose to correct my children in this way.  Everyone knows that facts are important any time there is conflict.  The question is not, “Are the facts important?” rather, “Which facts are most important?”  When I allow myself to get drawn into all the, “She did this” and “She did that’s” I get lost somewhere in the loop and we all lose.  No matter which role I end up choosing – be it judge, jury, executioner, or all three – I have found that, in the day to day conflicts, none get to the heart like concise, heart-checking correction.  Keeping correction simple moves the mountains Officer Mom cannot move by force, fear-mongering, or even consequence-facing.

These mountains have names.  We have Mt. Envy, Mt. Me-First, Mt. Mad, Mt. Lazy, Mt. Self-Righteous, Mt. Careless, and Mt. Clueless, just to name a few.  Each one erupts at its leisure, and sometimes, several at once!  I find that addressing where the lava is spewing from is best accomplished with concise, direct correction.  When it is my mountain, it is best accomplished with concise, direct confession.

This is how Officer Mom avoids taking sides.  It is how Officer Mom avoids spending the entire day listening to the play by play including everything from My Little Pony’s poor pet grooming epidsode to Barbie’s bad beach day.  Usually, my one-liners get us back where we need to be without needing the bound to breed more boo-boos backstory.

Unfortunately, there are times when we do have to deal with that backstory.  Those are what I call big bads.  If we are dealing with a big bad, we cannot use the day to day wake-up shots.  Every detail and dirty diaper is something with which Officer Mom must deal.  Everything becomes evidence in the desperate case against our very not-nice villan – sin.  Big bads require big backstory.  Fortunately, we only have those things come up very scarcely, and often it it because Officer Mom has dropped the ball on discipline for several days in a row, but it is tremendously important to recognize a big bad as being just that – big.

So here’s hoping my famous last words help you deal with whatever dirty diapers you have to change today.  Signing off as I get ready to make the donuts and patrol from my grocery-getting SUV.  Remember, others first.  Listen, don’t talk.  Did you obey?  Don’t hit!  May the Lord remind you that blessing is held for the peacemakers.  We, too are children – children of God, that is.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God. ~Matthew 5:9

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dirt

Paul told the Colossians who they were: Christ’s.  He told them who Christ was: all.  He told them who he was: their advocate.  Only afterward he begins to refute the falseness of what others were teaching them. He begins with a “therefore.”

 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. ~Colossians 2:6-7

Therefore; because of this reason.  What reason?  Because of who they are, who Christ is, and who Paul is, do thus and so.

Paul’s fulcrum is not his obvious authority.  It is not his pristine religious background, his knowledge, his rightness, or even his miraculous example of a changed life.  Paul’s fulcrum – his starting and ending point upon which his case for Christ’s sufficiency in the life of his fellow believers is Christ’s sufficiency itself.

Now here’s an interesting concept.  According to Paul’s example, refuting heresy in the church does not base itself upon insufficient things.  It cannot.  How could so many miss this?  We do.  This means that no matter who is refuting, correcting, or debunking Satan’s lies – whether they be apostle, pastor, teacher, or pope –  the basis is the same.  It is the position and authority of Christ to which a gospel instructor must point.

Man abuses authority.  His position is insufficient.  No matter how high and noble, man’s religion will never be religious enough.  His religious piety is insufficient.  Man’s knowledge gives way to pride.  His knowledge is insufficient.  Man’s right doing and right saying is always imperfect.  Man’s righteousness is insufficient.   Even a man who has a miraculous conversion and great example of God’s providential hand on his life has nowhere to go but back to Christ himself.  Man’s experience is insufficient.

Nothing in man convinces man to repent and believe the truth.  This – the power – is found in Christ alone.  Paul knows.  It keeps him humble.  Paul rides his doctrinal amendments in on the shirt tails of the trustworthiness of Christ’s work in them, in the world, and in himself.

Therefore, he does not say, “As you received me, so walk like me.”  He says, “As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him.”  Many a minister mistakes one for the other.  While it is true enough that a minister must make the most of himself and walk worthy – his example ought to be worth following – yet, the cornerstone of correction is Christ.

Herein Paul begins.  He has reassured them of their faith.  He has pointed to Christ.  He has personally opened his heart candidly to them.  Now, he tells them to “walk” in Christ the very same way they received Christ.

And how was that?

In faith.  He is telling his students that what they already know is all they need to know.  Hey guys – what’s new is not true and what’s true is not new.  Don’t fall for the emergent ideas.  They are false.  Stick with the program here, fellas.  Christ.  Christ is your tree of life.  Christ is your foundation.  He is the roots.  He is the center.  He is the Truth.  He is the fulcrum for all else.  Do not add to him, rather, draw from him.

Oh, yeah, and be thankful.  Abundantly, excessively, unmistakably thankfulAbound with thanksgiving.  He tells us why:

Christ is fully God come in the flesh; he is the head of every authority and you are full of him.  Are you going to let earthly authorities override his Word?  You are among the chosen because he has circumcised your hearts.  You died with him when you were baptized.  You were raised with him by his awesome power.  He brought you back to life!  You!  Even you who sinned so severely! He forgave you.  He cancelled your debt.  He fulfilled the law for you.  He won victoriously for you!

Remember?  Be thankful.  You are loved.

Genius.  Paul wins on so many levels.  He knows how to speak to people because he knows how not to.  He’d been there and done that pre-conversion.

Do you want to be an effective corrector?  Come as Paul, not Saul.  One pointed to Christ, the other, man.

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Image

Just after he lists the works of the flesh and the works of the Spirit, Paul gives an exhortation regarding how Christians ought to deal with one another when we fail or see someone else failing.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4 But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.5 For each will have to bear his own load. ~Galatians 6:1-5

An exhortation like this gives great insight into our two biggest temptations: carnality and self-righteousness.  It assumes that 1. we will be tempted and commit sin, at the very least, transiently, 2. we will need to correct and be corrected about sin transiently, and 3. our natural inclination is to think ourselves better than we are – whether we are the one in sin or the one correcting the sin of another.

Paul’s instructions are simple.  They come on the heels of the harsh, wrongful “correction” and exclusion administered by self-righteous men within the church.  Paul is sifting through the collateral damage done by puffed up leaders.  He is firmly reinstating proper restoration methods in the face of the rancid, loveless correction and competition that has been going on in Galatia.

“…you who are spiritual…”

His advice?  First, you must qualify.  Before you ever even think about correcting another sinner, examine yourself.  Are you spiritual?  If not, cease and desist.  Give it up.  You are in no place to correct anyone if you are not in tune with the Holy Spirit.  If you are, however, walking in line with the Spirit, then, and only then, proceed with great caution.  Then, if you see your brother sinning, be gentle with him.  Restore him.

Restore: to bring back to an original condition; to put someone back in a former position.

Restore.  Not reprimand.  Not reject.  Not ridicule.  Not label reprobate.  Restore.

Restoration is not retaliation.  It is not meant to wound, embarrass, injure, or shame.  Restoration is built on brotherly love.  It assumes that the transgressor is acting out of character.  It implies that the sinner was formerly in right standing with God.  The teachers in Galatia instead, assumed just the opposite.  They considered men unlike themselves (preferentially speaking) to be men of a different kind altogether – a worse, despicable, derelict kind who had no place at all within their great kingdom.  Little wonder why Paul emphasizes the importance of addressing sin properly here.  He knows that there are only sinners in the church who will be correcting sinners in the church.

His next warning?  Be careful.  When you go to one who is in sin, you will likely be tempted to sin right along with them.  Know why?  Because you are just like him.  You are a sinner, too.  Got it?  Remember it well or you will fall by either sinning with him or sinning by self-righteously thinking you are better than he.

You wanna obey the law?  Jesus’ law?  Bear your brother’s burdens.  Befriend him.  Talk to him.  Sit with him.  Know him.  Pray with him.  Love him.  Lead him.  You cannot bear what you do not know.  You cannot know a man in his darkest place lest you are, at the very least, willing to know him in his better state.  He simply will not let you.  Should he?  Clearly not.  We do not trust those whom we do not know.

Paul repeats himself pointing to the “correctors” back to his own need for great humility.  He reminds these guys that they are no better than the men they are seeking to correct.  He says, “Remember guys, you are nothing.  I am nothing.  Jesus is the only one who is something.  He is everything.  The second you think you are something great and quite possibly are God’s gift to the poor, erring, sinful people of the world, you lie.  You lie to yourself.  You are deceived, brother, and now in need of correction yourself.  Instead of thinking you’re doing God a favor by pointing out everyone else’s sin for them, test your own work.  Bear your own load.  Then you will be able to bear another’s.”

“This represents as the duty of every man; instead of being forward to judge and censure others, it would much more become us to search and try our own ways; our business lies more at home than abroad, with ourselves than with other men, for what business have we to judge another man’s servant?” ~Matthew Henry

Lord, give us grace.  Let us not reject, ridicule, reprimand or retaliate against even the reprobate.  Help us learn how to restore one another rightly.

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The worst thing about being a self-published, degree-less, amateur writer is the necessity to be one’s own editor.  This, by far, is the most humbling and awkward position for such a person to be in.  I’m not referring to petty spelling errors or the occasional typo (although those, too, can be quite embarrassing at times.)  No.  There are certain times where the truth becomes so crystal clear after the fact that a writer longs to obtain the magic cyber eraser from the sky and begin again.  But it doesn’t work that way now does it?  Consequently, the only solution is to either spend far more time thinking, praying, and fasting before pressing the fearful “publish” button, to return to the damaged article and correct it, or, to simply bite the bullet and draw the attention of your readers to the fact that you are the farthest thing from perfect that they have ever met…or read.

That said, my red pen is calling me this morning.  I cannot leave any room for doubt.  I must make some corrections in what I previously thought to be publishable.

To whom it may concern:

Now Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spoke to the men. And Eliab’s anger was kindled against David, and he said, “Why have you come down? And with whom have you left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know your presumption and the evil of your heart, for you have come down to see the battle.” 29 And David said, “What have I done now? Was it not but a word?” 30 And he turned away from him toward another, and spoke in the same way, and the people answered him again as before. ~1 Samuel 17:28-30

Little baby brother is showing big tough front-line brother up.  Big tough front-line brother is mad.  He is mad because he is jealous, prideful, and insecure about his own failure to do that which baby brother has the courage to do.

The writer speaks of her own cowardice and shame concerning that which she is called by her Lord to do.  How many underdogs have quietly shown her up simply by showing up and doing God’s will without talking about it!  She is often beside herself with pride, anger, and jealousy.

Why did you come here small boy?  Just who do you think you are?  I’ll tell you what I think: you are nothing.  You probably left the one itty-bitty responsibility you had unattended.  I know you.  I know what is in your black heart.  You are bored.  You are lazy.  You are just looking for some action in your miserable, purposeless life.  You have no business here on my turf.  You are worthless; better yet, you are evil.  Go back where you came from, inferior.

In her pride, the writer often errs with harsh, repeated diatribes where she should instead be expressing humble gratitude, holy grace, and the deferential  sorrow over her own sin.

Eliab, in his unrighteous anger, used every angle he could find to discredit David.  He sought wholeheartedly to deny him the honor due him for his courage and hunger for righteousness.

The writer often wrongly believes that her anger is righteous and that others’ actions and speech are suspicious, unrighteous, and undeserving of honor.  Because of this, she discounts their efforts and replaces acclamation and thanks to God with disgust, rejection, and unbelief towards God and the people he has chosen to use for his glory.

Nevertheless, David was obedient.  He was zealous for the Lord.  He was courageous, fearless, and wise even despite the towering foe he knew he was about to face and the pain of his brother’s injurious accusations.

Despite all the writer’s sin and suspicion, Jesus was obedient.  He was zealous, courageous, fearless, and wise in her stead.  Jesus paid no mind to Lori’s ridiculous demeanor.

Eliab would not hear of it.  He made sure his false accusations and unfounded charges were loud and clear.  He tells David he is presumptuous as he himself stands presuming upon his innocent brother.

There was no shortage of presumption or accusation.  The writer not only failed to appreciate her brother’s grace, she accused him of that which she was guilty.

David is not fazed.  David answers softly and turns around.  He continues about his Father’s business.  Consider, though, that there are quite a lot of things David could have said or done to defend himself.

Jesus was not fazed by Lori’s absurdity.  Jesus ignored her bogus rants.  He did all that the Father commanded him – for her.  Imagine what she really deserved…

He could have argued.  He could have cried.  He could have owned it.  He could have gone back home.  He could have clocked his brother a good one.  He could have reciprocated his brother’s false accusations.  Doubtless, there are countless ways David could have returned evil for evil.  None of them,however, would result in giving glory to God.

Jesus annihilated the writer with his wit and wisdom.  He wept for her condemned condition.  He owned her sin completely.  He refused to go back home without her.  He crushed her by falling upon her like a stone.  He never accused her.  He uses her imperfections to glorify God.

The bottom line is, David had bigger fish to fry and he knew it.  He’s got no time for this kind of infantile tomfoolery.  David was interested in only one thing – the Lord’s will.  He knew it was not his reputation that was ultimately at stake here; it was the Lord’s!  How important it was for him to overlook the insults being hurled at him and turn away from that mess.  Therefore, he was wise.  He was patient.  He was forgiving.  Such things are apparent by the way he held his peace (save a question or two about the validity of the charges) and, in doing so, kept his peace.

Jesus has a plan that far exceeds any error the writer can make.  He does not let her stupidity slow down his sanctification in her.  He has only one goal – conforming Lori to himself.  He is not concerned in the least with what this means in regards to her reputation; He is concerned about his beautiful child and his worthy Name.  He disregards her foolish, blatant, repeated errors and he allows his flawless wisdom, patience, and forgiveness to reign over her with peace.  He questions her softly and, in his kind mercy and gentle grace, convicts her of the sin she holds most tightly onto.

Likewise, Matthew Henry writes, “Those that undertake great and public services must not think it strange if they be discountenanced and opposed by those from whom they had reason to expect support and assistance; but must humbly go on with their work, in the face not only of their enemies’ threats, but of their friends’ slights and suspicions.”

Will walker writes, “Through a variety of means, Satan attacks our children at the level of their identity and purpose. If he can get them to believe that they are nothing more than a sinner (a message propagated through much of the evangelical church), then he can render them useless in the mission of God.” Lord, let it never be said of me again!

The writer offers extensive apologies for her dullness and ignorance.  If there is room in your heart to be like unto her Savior, please forgive her.  May his face shine upon you, be gracious unto you, and give you peace.  Amen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIRk5bebycI

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