RECEIVING AND GIVING CORRECTION
Jesus Did It!
By: Ceci Sullivan
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Gods method of adjusting and strengthening
relationships in the Body.
As God demonstrates His power throughout the earth in renewal and revival, we see a central part of His purpose emerging in the term, "relationship." God is gathering together a people who are not only rooted and established in relating to Him, but properly related to each other in the Body of Christ.
In order to clearly understand Gods purpose in relationships and the role it plays in bringing us to maturity in Christ, We want to open the spirit of our minds to see How Jesus uses His body to "adjust" one another.
In Galatians 1:3 we see that in the purpose of God, Jesus died to save us from our sins that He might deliver us from this present evil age. In Colossians 1:13 we see that God has accomplished this, delivering us out of the kingdom of darkness and transferring us into the Kingdom of His dear Son. But the problem that faces us in Romans 12:12 is that even though we have been delivered, we must not allow the influence of that from which we have been delivered to press us into it's mold, but rather be conformed to the image of Christ. Now , the point to be emphasized is that God has designed us as a new creation of people to be able to escape the influences of this present world, but we can't do that alone. That is why God has called forth a many-membered Body, not just a group of individuals gathered in the same place at the same time, but rather a people who are being knit together by the Holy Spirit.
In recognizing our need for a body of people who can help us to grow up in the Lord, we must face the fact that we have overestimated the power of the will of a regenerate person. First of all we have taken for granted that a regenerate man possesses in some intuitive sense, all the knowledge that he needs to grow up and walk in the power of The Holy Spirit. But we are discovering that just because you are born again does not mean that you automatically know what you are to do as a Christian, and are always led by God's Spirit.
Our second mistake in overestimating the power of the will of a regenerate person is taking from grated that because a person knows what to do, and has knowledge he will act on it. Over and over again, I discover in my life as an individual Christian, that no matter how much I know and how badly I may want to walk in all that I know, I cannot trust myself to actually do it. This is the basis for our need for the Body and for relationships. We need to be related to people who will help us, either by encouragement or adjustment and to face up to the fact that we only possess what we actually walk in day by day.
Today we are very much in danger of becoming the most over informed, under activated generation of Christians that has ever been. Because of the available means of communications, books, tapes, TV, radio, Internet, there is more information available to people than ever before in history. The
subtle danger is to think that because we have the knowledge, that we posses the truth, when we really don't. It's easy to be hearers and not doer's and deceive ourselves.
What we eventually realize is that in order to start to walk in what we know, we have to somehow be related to people who will confront us with the gap between our information and our walk. God wants to bring us into this realm of fellowship. It is essential and necessary for each of us. We need to be
in relationships with people where we can receive the specific encouragement and adjustment we need to continue on as believers. That only comes in a relationships where you truly know people, and you know how to encourage them when they are weak or downhearted or depressed. And sometimes we even need to be rebuked sharply so we may be sound in our faith.
THE NEED FOR ADJUSTMENT... Now the specific area that we want to deal with in this article is a rather touchy and difficult area, yet an essential one for each of us in the fulfillment of God's purpose for the Body. It is the whole matter of learning how to admonish or adjust one another in the Lord. It is a hard thing to admit that I need the Holy Spirit working through other people to help me arrive at what God wants me to be Deep inside. I really want to think that "me and Jesus" can really make it on our own, and that given enough time, I could grow spiritually by myself. Burt sooner or later,
each of us must come to the end of ourselves. You really don't start to make spiritual progress until you have become more miserable as a Christian than you were as an unbeliever. That kind of pressure causes us to examine ourselves and admit our need for help and correction.
Some time ago, I read a little article published in World Vision Magazine about a renewal of the Holy Spirit that has been going on in Africa for 37 years, and what struck me was the permanence and staying power of this particular move of God. In this article, eight reasons were outlined as to why the writer felt that this visitation of the Spirit had been so powerful and so long lasting. Two of those reasons were especially interesting to me, and I want to share them as an introduction to what I want to give from the Scriptures. According to the writer, who has overseen the renewal first hand, one of the first reasons the renewal has gone on for 37 years is...there has bee a self imposed ruthlessness with any attitudes, habits, and actions that are not thoroughly Christian. The follow up point is...there is a tremendous honesty linked with love between each person and his neighbor. Here are the two things.
1) An honesty and ruthlessness with yourself...I'M GOING TO STOP BABYING MYSELF AND START DEALING HONESTLY WITH MYSELF.
2) A relationship of honesty linked with love between people and their neighbor.
With that background, let's turn to the book of Proverbs, and see what the Scriptures say about the life that comes from a relationship with other Christians in which there is the giving and receiving of admonishment, reproof, correction, and adjustment.
Proverbs 10:17 - "He is in the way of life that keeps instruction, but he that refuses reproof errors."
Before we go any further let's settle on primary issue.
The Word of God is
accurate and trustworthy. What is says will happen does. When God says, "He
who forsakes reproof goes astray", that's exactly what it means. Not just
sometimes, but all the time. When anyone forsakes reproof, he will go astray!
Proverbs 12:1 - "Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge, but he that hateth (lightly esteems) reproof, is brutish (Stupid and hard hearted)." Now, I didn't say that, Solomon did. He who hates reproof is stupid.
Proverbs 13:10 - "Only by pride cometh contention, but with the well advised is wisdom." In other words, presuming that I don't need reproof only causes me to start striving with people. But if I accept reproof, then I get wisdom.
Proverbs 13:18 - "He that regards reproof is prudent."
Proverbs 15:31 - "He that hates reproof shall die."
Proverbs 15:31 - "He who listens to reproof gets understanding."
Proverbs 19:20 - "Listen to counsel and receive
instruction, that you may be wise in your days."
Now I haven't extracted one questionable scripture and given it some questionable interpretation. It is obvious that the Scriptures give abundant evidence that receiving correction and reproof is essential to our maturing in Jesus Christ. The matter of allowing ourselves to be adjusted by fellow
believers and to have the truth spoken in love to us becomes essential for our growth and development. If you forsake it, you go astray, if you hate it you are stupid. (You hate your own soul). If you think you don't need it, you will end up in strife, and if you continue to lightly esteem it you will die. But if you receive it, there will be wisdom and honor, you will be prudent, you will come into knowledge and you will be a path of life. That is the kind of choice we face. "Through good advice war is made." If we will truly war against the enemies of our soul we have to be established in good counsel. In the Peshitta of one Proverb it says, "the understanding of the pious men shall deliver you."
There are many other scriptures on this topic, and here is one that takes a lot of faith to believe. Proverbs 27:5-6 - "Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful."
I thank the Lord from the depths of my heart for friends who are
faithful enough to wound me when I need it. I'm not saying that it's easy or
that I like it. It's a hard thing to realize that the wounds of a friend are
faithful. It is hard to realize that the people you need the most are not
the ones that continually smother you and tell you how wonderful you are, but
the ones who have enough faith to tell you the truth. We should all be
faithful...full of faith, wounders at some point in time. And we all need
to be willing to be faithful friends. None of us are exempt in God's eyes.
Look also at Proverbs 27:17 - "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens the countenance of a friend." That is a beautiful Scripture. It is God's intent that in our relationships with each other, that we sharpen each other.
There is a prophecy that says, "Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument..."(Is.41:15).
God's desire is for people is to sharpen each
other. Unfortunately, instead of iron sharpening iron, our relationships for
the most part have been more like Jello sharpening Jello..."Thank you for
your message, brother. Oh it's so nice to hear your lovely words, they
tickle my ears."
If there is no honesty in relationships...there is no
sharpening going on. We become valueless to each other. We can build up each
other's flesh, and do ruin to each other through flattery. We become just like
the pillow people Jeremiah speaks of that say "peace, peace", but we wouldn't
dare be honest, and our flattery works as much ruin as it did in the day of
Jeremiah's false prophets. They would not give a true reflection to
each other. They told each other what they wanted to hear.
The first time a brother sat me down and said, "Listen, when we come together, I expect there to be enough liberty and freedom among us that when a brother or elder gives a prophetic word that is off, or a guy gets to preaching and misses the mark, that he should hear about it. Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty to tell the truth. I expect us to be able to minister to one another in such a way that we will sharpen one another, that there will be a true spirit of communion, (truth), that is
essential to the sharpening of our lives. God's purpose is that we be like iron that sharpens iron."
Psalm 141:3-4 - "Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth, keep the door of my lips. Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked words with men that work iniquity and let me not eat of their dainties."
He's praying that God would help him with his mouth and with his heart. Then comes verse 5, "let the righteous smite me, it will be a kindness to my head." How many of us pray this way? He said it was like oil, and he didn't want to refuse it. When we start thinking..."I wonder if this person really loves me, or if he's walking in what he's telling me, we are already missing it. It doesn't matter.
The person who is being corrected is the person who has
the opportunity to change, and where the other guy is at won't matter if your
heart is set in pleasing God yourself and you're willing to face how you're not
pleasing to God. You leave a child to himself and he will bring his Father
shame. Even if someone's motives or heart isn't perfect towards you, if yours
is towards God, you love the truth, and you love that person speaking to you, IT
WILL CHANGE AND DELIVER YOU! If they speak truth, and you are wrong, you just
got the opportunity to repent if you don't respond pridefully and are humble.
We think we can only take the truth if it's like the medicine Mary Poppins sings
about... "Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down." Well, when you
begin to grow up, you realize you don't
need the sugar, and it rots your teeth, and when people have to be ooooh so
gentle with us, it proves how alive to self and thin skinned we are. Now babes are thin skinned. But if I'm so emotional, I put people through all kinds of torment to get them to back off so they won't speak the truth to me, I have some serious changing to do. We should all want people to be at
liberty in telling us the truth, not trying to intimidate them so they won't. The flesh in us can always find reasons to reject truth spoken, and make some excuse for not submitting to truth. Then we just live lives of accusing and excusing, and that's not where God wants us.
Proverbs 17:10 - "A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding than a hundred blows into a fool." God says if you come to a place of understanding, you can learn more with one rebuke than with one hundred blows of chastening, and I want to be a candidate for that. Even though it is often painful and uncomfortable to be reproved, it is even more painful to be chastened. The most painful thing of all can be to have people lie to you, flatter you, and build so many walls and bars in their hearts, that all the divisions have become big foxes, because all the little ones were ignored and ate away the vine as the foxes grew fat. We can bury our head in the divisions in our heart with our brother, but they continue to grow like mold if they are ignored. The Lord wants us to become mature, and be able to go with, move with correction, not kick and rebel against it. It's Gods tool for sharpening us and if we never see that, we are spiritual sloths and our way will always be hard.
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Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you ... please don't make such a tragic mistake.
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