Putting Words into Action
According to scripture we should rebuke others. And we receive a blessing for doing so!
But rebuke others? That seems a bit harsh. It seems a bit hard.
So, how do we do it?
When it comes to working for God we have to be tedious. We have to be obedient. We have to be prepared. We have to be loving. Yes, the Bible says we should rebuke others, but something that cuts so close to the heart has to be done carefully–exactly how Jesus instructs.
In 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15 commands us to treat sinners as brothers: “If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” If we saw our brother or sister headed toward the edge of the cliff would we shun them as an enemy, or do we run after them and warn them in love?
Once warned, if they continue to run toward their death, we shouldn’t climb aboard and die with them, but “have nothing to do with him”, and perhaps they will turn away from their path. When they’ve been warned, we try to save them, and they continue on a path of destruction, all we can do is pray for them.
If their wrongdoing is against us we can’t just rebuke them, or pray for them. We are also told to forgive those who wrong us. In Luke 17:3-4 we are told to forgive–and not just once, but even if they wrong us seven times in one day we must.
Speak and Listen
When we see someone traveling down the path of destruction, we must reprove them, we must pray for them, and we must forgive them. But that’s not all!
James 5:16 says “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (emphasis added). So, not only are we to forgive others, but we also should confess our own sins, pray together and for each other, and then the true healing can begin.
I am guilty of not confessing my transgressions. I’ve done so only a handful of times in my life, and prayed for someone who hurt me only twice that I can recall. Both times were powerful. Both times changed me. But instead of confessing to others, we are embarrassed. Instead of praying for others we pray for ourselves. Instead of being like Jesus, we are selfish.
A little further into the book of James chapter 5 (verses 19-20) we can see that if we turn someone back toward the truth, we not only save them, but also “cover a multitude of sins”! This is kind of a big deal to me. When I think of covering a multitude of sins I think of Christ hanging on a cross. I think of Christ covering all the sins of the world with His blood. I think of laying down my life for a friend. I think that this may be the closest I can ever get to Christ on this earth.
Did you know that you had the power to save someone like that? Now that you know that you can do this through Christ Jesus, how can you continue on with your life and not do it? I know I can’t.
I may desperately want to run and help every person I may see floundering in the world, and struggling to do right, but I know I can’t just run after them. I see my friends struggling with lives that they hate, unknowing that they can have something so much better, but I can’t just go help them–not yet anyway. If my neighbor is blindfolded and walking toward a cliff’s edge, I cannot guide him to safety if I too am wearing a blindfold.
Oxygen Mask Theology
When you are preparing to take flight in an airplane, there is usually a short tutorial put on by a flight attendant in which they give instructions in case of emergency. One point that is made that many people don’t quite understand is that in the event that the oxygen masks are needed, you must put your mask on before helping anyone else. This is because we cannot help others if we are not conscious. We cannot help others breathe if we cannot breathe. We cannot help others see God’s path if we cannot see it.
Jesus discusses spiritual blindness in both John and Matthew. It is vital to lead others to Christ, but we have to ensure we aren’t just the blind leading the blind. We have to be following Jesus.
Look for my next blog post “Sing a Little Louder: Part 3” to continue this study.
Photo Courtesy of Amy Purvis Paskell