Love in Judgment

Ezekiel 11:16   (KJV)   16 Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come.

Even when God finally judges us or disciplines us, even when we’re suffering the unpleasant consequences of our foolish choices, even when we find ourselves in non-ideal situations, God’s love and grace never stops.

Ezekiel 11.16 - Love in JudgmentThe immeasurable abundance of God’s love and grace can’t be denied; they’re very obvious; we’re surrounded by them and our experiences are inundated with them. But there comes a time when He finds it wise to discipline us, or judge us.

He doesn’t delight in resorting to punishment; He’s slow to anger and He doesn’t execute judgment right away the moment we sin. He patiently does so many things in so many ways to get our distracted attention and correct our brazen rebellion. He tries—over and over and over… He’s a God of second chances; that’s so true, and yet in so many cases, that’s a very obvious understatement.

When we sincerely repent, He forgives us; He doesn’t hold grudges. But I admit, despite our most earnest intentions, we still fail Him. From the time we’ve surrendered our lives to Him until now, how many times has He forgiven us? Second chance—it’s more like millions of chances. So His love, mercy, grace, patience—all these can’t be questioned. When He finally judges people or nations, it’s because that’s the only recourse left if there is any possibility of waking up to the reality of their utter ungodliness.

Even in the middle of judgment, and/or punishment, and/or discipline, God is still calling, wooing, drawing, expecting the rebellious to finally come to their senses and turn back to Him. Of course, there are those who persist in their stubbornness, but there are those who wake-up and realize the terrible state they’re in.  But as for God, He longs that His people be restored instead of destroyed. Even in the middle of judgment, there’s mercy, there’s grace, there’s a promise, there’s hope. What a God!!!

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Love, Rebuke, Chastening

Revelation 3:19   (KJV)   19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

God’s love neither contradicts nor eliminates rebuke and chastening; in fact, it’s His love that necessitates them. We don’t hate or reject those loving actions of our Father, as unpleasant as they may be while we’re in them. Instead, we welcome them with open Revelation 3.19 - Love, Rebuke, Chasteninghands, heart, and mind. And we take the necessary actions to correct whatever needs correction.

We’re not only accepting of God’s rebuke and discipline; we’re humbly grateful and appreciative of them. We don’t just tolerate them; we celebrate them. And we don’t drag our feet forcing ourselves to respond and to change; we’re zealous of growing in the likeness of our precious Lord Jesus. We willingly and quickly turn away from thoughts, actions, and choices He forbids. We understand: lack of desire and passion to leave ways that break our Fathers’ heart needs dumping in itself.

Hmmm; let’s see; we repent from Lukewarnness; we want to be hot—on fire for God—passionately loving and serving Him. No, it’s not cool to be “spat out” by Dad; that’s horrible. We repent from materialism, from close-mindedness, from spiritual ineptitude; we pursue Him, eternal and imperishable treasures, wisdom, and spiritual maturity. We repent from evil, unrighteousness, and ungodliness. We choose the good, right, and godly.

Slander Not

Psalm 101:5   (KJV)   Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.

Slander is abhorrent; it ought to be. We don’t involve ourselves in badmouthing and backbiting our neighbors. When people do, we cut them off right away. We don’t allow Psalm 101.5 - Slander Notourselves to become trash heaps; no, we stop it right away. It may be offensive to silence trash-talkers; it may be a humbling or humiliating experience for them, but that may even be something good for them to experience.

Those who spew out negative words about others operate in pride that stems directly from proud hearts. They feel like they’re above and others are below. That they’re better than others may not necessarily be true; they just esteem themselves as such.

We can justify times when there’s a need to speak about the wrongs and errors of others, but when we can make the necessary points without exposing the people, that’s what we do. It’s only when it’s absolutely needed that we resort to exposing the person. But that’s our last recourse. When we know of their sin, instead of slandering them to people behind their backs, we approach them directly and show their faults. We do this lovingly, humbly, gently, boldly, and restoratively.

Conquered Thoughts

2-corinthians-10-5-conquered-thoughts

2 Corinthians 10:5   (KJV)   Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Even in the church, there’s always an ongoing threat of contra-biblical teachers and teachings. There are good-intentioned people who are very opinionated too. There are those who aren’t aware of their biases. They end up with adulterated beliefs that they try to convince other people with. Instead of leading others to a stronger, deeper, and closer relationship with the Lord, their doctrines and practice become sacrilegious.

With love and care, with wisdom, gentleness, and boldness, with restoration as our goal, we show them their errors. Our correction isn’t based on our own opinions; God’s Word is our authoritative basis. The most important and cardinal teachings are laid out plainly and clearly in it; there’s no confusion about them. There, we cast down and take captive erroneous positions and lead them to a place of surrender to the Truth.

There’s no compromise as to this. We’ve been given effective spiritual weapons. They are mighty; they do what they’re supposed to do. God’s Words themselves will accomplish the purposes for which they are sent—not one word will fall to the ground wasted. We take our weapons and use them. Love doesn’t stop us from correcting, rebuking, reproving, and disciplining, it urges us. True love speaks truth, even when it hurts. We who love God also welcome the truth, even when it hurts. Missing the Truth is more serious than many people reckon. Jesus is the Truth: we love Jesus; we love the truth; we prefer Him over everything and anything that goes against Him, no matter how wise-sounding or spiritual-appearing they are. We pursue the truly sacred, not just the sacred looking, and we have the assurance of God’s smile upon us because our basis is His revealed will.

Quick Judgment

Romans 2:1   (KJV)   1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

Often, people are guilty of the same things they judge others for. And since this is true, there really is no room and reason for hypocritical judgmental attitudes and actions.

It’s very easy for some of us to call others out on their mistakes or wrongdoings. We can be very good at making others feel guilty. We make sure of it. Somehow, it makes some of us feel more superior – that we’re better people. And we want that picture we portray seen well. Really? Perhaps the only advantage we have is that we found out about their faults and we were better in hiding ours. Some of us act so smug and untouchable. We want to create this separation between us and “the sinner.”

Interestingly, we are selective in this. We can be blind to the wrongs of the people we like; but we can be brutal to others we don’t like. The truth is, the knowledge of the sins of people we’re not really so enamored with just gives us the ace we need so we can treat them with disgusting cruelty and make everyone see that we’re justified in doing so. Give me a break. Any sin we know about anyone – people we like or people we don’t necessarily like is infinitesimal compared to all the sins we ourselves are guilty of – which we know, if we’ll only be honest to ourselves.

God wants us to be alleviated from the burden of pretense. No one’s perfect – not others, not us. We will sin. Let’s not excuse each other, but let’s accept each other’s reality. Then let’s help each other work out our salvation better and more seriously without the weight of condemnation hanging around our heads.

Dear God, the only perfectly holy Being in existence, thank You for the grace You’ve given us to be humble. Because of You, we can change. You’re working in us so that we will have a change of mind and attitude regarding others. You want us to be more gracious in dealing with people caught in their sins and to be honest regarding our own. You’ve shown us our true nature so that we won’t ever act arrogantly and proudly. We all have the dreaded “skeletons in our closet.” That’s why we desperately need a Savior. We realize that any holiness we enjoy and any victory we have is all because of You, – in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Open for Correction

Psalm 141:5   (KJV)   Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.

A wise person is open for correction. It doesn’t matter if the rebuke hurts; it’s humbly and gratefully welcomed. They see that the advantages of painful corrections far outweigh the hurts brought by them. They’re given to heal and not to destroy.

Corrections in life are necessary. But only works great on people who are wise and humble – people who aren’t hurt to accept their imperfection. Corrections are good for us. But we’re often left to ourselves living out our dangerous mistakes because we’re not willing to be shown the errors of our ways. In wanting to keep the peace, people would rather avoid pointing out our flaws. We need to give people the assurance, not just the impression, that it’s okay for them to tell us if we’re doing something wrong. We ought to be happy about it and thankful for people who love us for who we are, but who love us enough to save us from dangerous and destructive factors in our lives.

Lies will destroy us. Errors will destroy us. Let us accept corrections like skilled-maneuverings of a specialist physician to rid us of our deadly sicknesses although it may necessitate cutting us open first. Let us treat them as soothing balms for our sin-sick souls.

Dear God of Truth, You’re our pursuit. We want truth, even if they are ugly truths about us that we need to surrender to You. Please give us the spirit of graciousness and gratefulness towards other people who love us enough to boldly yet gently show us the errors of our ways – to restore us to the right path. Please help us to be intrepid enough not to be a passive contributor to other people’s curses – by also lovingly speaking up when we see others treading the wrong path – in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Of News and Truth

Luke 3:18  (AMP18 So with many other [various] appeals and admonitions he preached the good news (the Gospel) to the people.

John courageously prepared the way for the Lord Jesus through bold exhortations and preaching. He unflinchingly told it like it was. Doctrine, correction, rebuke, instruction – whatever was necessary, He spoke clearly, and bravely – no batting of eyelids, no fear of the potential of unescessarily offending others. He preached what people needed to hear – wanted or not. He preached the bad news and the good news. Despite being associated often only with radical rebukes, He did both: appealed and preached the Good News.

News ought to be uncompromisingly truthful. This is our special call as privileged bearers of the eternal truth. Many a times, there’s  a tendency to gravitate towards either the pleasant, encouraging words or the fearful warnings and judgments. Those who joyfully preach the God of love look down on those who still engage in preaching hellfire and brimstone as preachers of legalism and condemnation. Those who adamantly preach about the God of holiness and justice look down on those who continually preach on the God of grace and mercy as shallow, compromising and advocates of licentiousness. Faithfulness requires fullness of the message. No matter what’s our propensity or inclination, no matter what’s our preference, we are to boldly speak them all: bad news and good news. Different personalities will yield different approaches – some, even interesting ones; it’s great; let’s just make sure we proclaim the same full Scripture message.

Dear God may we be faithful bearers of the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – in love, with wisdom and gentleness, so help us God.