2 Corinthians 1-2, Psalm 149
There is a poem in Evangelist, Mark Cahill's book titled, "One Thing You Can't Do in Heaven" called "My Friend". These are portions of it: My friend, I stand in judgment now, And feel that you're to blame somehow. On Earth I walked with you day by day, And never did you point the way...We walked by day and talked by night, And yet you showed me not the light. You let me live, and love and die, You knew I'd never live on high. Yes, I called you "friend" in life, And trusted you through joy and strife. And, yet, on coming to this dreadful end, I cannot, now, call you "my friend". It is much easier to overlook sin, and for the sinner it is easier to take offense at those who point out our faults, but God commands us to confront sin and allow ourselves to be corrected by His Word and others if we are to experience joy on Earth and one day experience joy in heaven.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 2:4, "For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you, with many tears, not that you should be grieved, but that you might know the love which I have so abundantly for you." A little later he writes in 2 Corinthians 7:8, "For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while." Paul established the church in Corinth and like an earthly father does, needed to correct those who were openly sinning. In Proverbs 27:5-6, it says, "Open rebuke is better Than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." Lovingly confronting sin and those who don't know Christ for their eternity's sake are difficult but preferred over ignoring it. In Hebrews 12:5-6, the author writes, "My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives." Like an earthly father, God, our Father, lovingly corrects us through His Word, through trials, and through others. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2:15,17, "For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing...For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ."
So there are 3 things we must ask ourselves: when we see loved ones sinning, do we ignore it or lovingly confront it? When we see those who don't have a relationship with Christ, do we approach them with the words of eternal life? When it is our turn to be corrected, whether from God's Word or an individual do we take offense or do we accept it and allow our hearts to change? We can only control what we do, and should not hold back for fear of the response of the other, but it must always be done in love. When I spoke to one of my patients who was homosexual, about Christ, who was grieving the loss of her mother, I did so out of love. I don't regret anything that I said, yet though a patient of mine for 15 years, she chose to leave my practice. We must also control how we hear and read Scripture, since it is easy for us to assume God's tone and voice inflection incorrectly. When we read in Genesis 3:9, after Adam and Eve sinned by eating the fruit, and God says, "Where are you?" to Adam, what voice do we hear in our minds, one of anger or one of love. Do we read into it and hear, "How could you?" or "Wait till I get my hands on you?', or do we hear, "Look at your situation, allow Me to cover you?" When Jesus tells the woman caught in adultery in John 8:11, "..go and sin no more", do we hear "I'm letting you off the hook this time, you better not do it again", or do we hear His message of hope saying, "you're free, you don't have to sin anymore." Pride clouds our ability to correct and our ability to be corrected. If we are going to continue to be God's ambassadors on Earth, we should all seek to humble ourselves in both situations, and always act as messengers of God's love.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: