Devotional Thought of the Day:
2 And he is able to deal gently with ignorant and wayward people because he himself is subject to the same weaknesses. Hebrews 5:2 (NLT)
10 Never reprimand anyone while you feel provoked over a fault that has been committed. Wait until the next day, or even longer. Then make your remonstrance calmly and with a purified intention. You’ll gain more with an affectionate word than you ever would from three hours of quarreling. Control your temper. (1)
It is one of the most challenging parts of being a pastor or a parent, or a good friend.
It takes not only courage, but a level of love for the other person, that embraces the discomfort and the threat of rejection.
Still it is essential, it is necessary, and it can be done with gentleness and compassion. It must be done.
We have to learn to correct each other, and as the priesthood of all believers. We can’t afford not to be there for each other.
But this correcting has to be done as Hebrews describes the high priest doing it, with gentleness! Not in anger, not as a reaction to the error. But mourning over it, crying out to God in prayer for the wisdom to communicate the correction completely.
Gentleness doesn’t mean we become a pushover. The term in Greek there means a measured or precise amount of compassion. With the coolness and calmness that doesn’t come in the middle of a situation. But to take a step back, look at the cross, and remember that God desires that the other person to come to repentance. God wants them to be transformed, to be conformed to the likeness of Jesus..
That has to be the motivation for the correction. To help them, to break down the walls, and seem them benefit from the correction.
It will be challenging, they might reject you for a time, they might get angry, even if you do it as precisely as Christ woul have. Remember, they nailed Him to the cross. And that worked out all right, for that measure of compassion is so evident to see.
Walking this way through life will be a blessing to you as well. For to correct others and to allow them to correct you, takes great faith. We have to trust in God the Father to at His promises. Which means we have to walk with Him, constantly talking and listening to Him! And that is a wonderful place to be!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 185-187). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:12-14 (NLT)
When I speak to you of good example, I mean to tell you, too, that you have to understand and excuse, that you have to fill the world with peace and love.(2)
It is a phase we all go through, a defensive mechanism that we revert to in moments where we’ve been “caught” in the act. In a five year old, it can be a little cute and hilarious. In a 30 year old, or even a 50 or 70 year old – not so much. I am talking about making up and giving excuses. The ways in which we try to bend the perception of others, in regards to our actions (and their perceptions are often accurate) to get them to put the best construction, the best reasoning on our actions. We may say things without thinking, we may do something that was wrong, whether we know it or not at the time.
And a five year old can make up some of the silliest excuses you’ve ever heard! Again – kinda cute, a interesting phase.
But what if the best…way of dealing with excuses was not to be found in the one making them, but in the one to whom they are made?
If I read Paul’s words above, and they were practiced, especially the ones underlined, we see a relationship in which a person wouldn’t have to give you excuses – there would be no need! If we trusted each other, to forgive, to make allowance for our mistakes, why would we bother? If we could comprehend the love, the charity (see the last two blogs for charity/love) would we be so quick to find excuses? If we put the best construction, saw the best in what each other did – as Luther taught, would we need to create incredible stories – and get defensive? If we sought to understand and excuse, to fill the world with love and peace… would others need to blame others?
As I think about the community of faith, and the sanctuary it should be, about how we should be able to strengthen each other, build up each other, help each other overcome temptation, this is one of the greatest ways. To mutually work to create an environment where mercy and love are demonstrated, are encouraged, where peace reigns, because we learn not to be defensive, because we do not have to be! What a wondrous environment we could create! We would be the church God intended, a church were people ran for absolution, for forgiveness and would find assurance of it. Accountability wouldn’t be a law driven concept, but one that we rejoiced in, knowing those asking us questions were actually interested in helping us thrive.
It starts simply – not with trying to find excuses for our actions, but excusing and forgiving the actions of others….knowing that is exactly what Christ did!
Even simple – this won’t be easy…. so let us cry for God’s mercy!
And know and be assured – and assure each other… He has listened and is merciful!
(1) Luther’s Small Catechism: Developed and Explained.
(2)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2103-2104). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.