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Sunday, April 20, 2014

You have my permission

Posted by Gary on January 30, 2006

Psalm 141:5 “Let a righteous man strike me- it is a kindness; let him rebuke me- it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.”

Psalm 141 was our Scripture reading yesterday; verse 5 of this psalm stands out to me: “Let a righteous man strike me-it is a kindness; let him rebuke me-it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it.” This to me is the statement of a man who knows his own heart and realizes that he will often need to be corrected.

How important it is for all of us to submit to and embrace the loving rebukes of our brothers and sisters in Christ; although I wonder as a pastor how much striking is going on in our churches? I’m afraid that amongst the people in the pews there are few who are willing to go to their brother and strike him in love. There are a few reasons that this is the case: First, we have lost sight of what brotherhood is and what responsibility we bear before God for one another; yes, we are our brother’s keeper. Second, God’s people have allowed the American idea of individualism and privacy to rule their thinking. Many in the Church today have an attitude of “hands off” when it comes to their lives; they want to go to church and get out and have no interest in being transparent about their lives. The general attitude is “You leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone.”

A third reason that striking our brothers is rarely practiced is because we have lost sight of the wickedness of our hearts. There is no way a person can have a “let’s leave each other alone” attitude and know their own hearts. We are in great danger when we no longer think that we need someone to speak to us about our behavior and attitudes. Do we really want to be left to ourselves? Are we so confident in the faithfulness of our hearts? Scripture gives us great reason not to be:

Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it”

The fact that my heart is deceitful beyond my knowledge is a great motivator for me to receive and even encourage my brother’s rebuke. I am amazed that even the Apostle Paul did not rule out the possibility that he could become a castaway after preaching to others (1 Corinthians 9:27) if he had this concern let us all fear and tremble.

If you have a brother or sister ladies, who is willing to come and speak lovingly and candidly to you about your life you have a great gift from God; thank Him for it. If you don’t I would encourage you to go to someone you respect in the Lord and give them permission and further, request that they come to you if at anytime they see something concerning about your behavior and spiritual condition.

Please don’t wait for an invitation though, if you see a brother or sister who is exhibiting sinful behavior go to them in love and strike them. Yes, perhaps they will not receive it well, but trust that in eternity they will thank you. Who knows, perhaps they will be grateful and you will have found yourself an accountability partner.

No one likes to be rebuked at the moment it happens; I am a great proof of this fact. But, the righteous will always eventually be glad for a loving rebuke. Eternity is before us and our souls are going to live forever, how can we watch someone stray without saying anything? How can I hold my brother at arms length when his rebuke may rescue me from harming my soul?

Proverbs 27:6 “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”

James 5:19-20 “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”

An encouraging word, another new hymn

Posted by Gary on November 15, 2005

Some weeks ago I posted the words to a hymn that I recently learned of called, "Give Me a Faith Which Can Remove" by Charles Wesley. This past Saturday I received an email from my friend Chris which included the words to another hymn (also new to me) written by John Newton. I found it quite enlightening and encouraging. Let me share a bit of his note and then the text:

Reading your Blog recently you made reference in one article to a hymn of Charles Wesley that you hadn’t previously come across. It is one of my favorites and I wholly endorse your enthusiastic response to it.

I was reminded however by your article that though we share a considerable common hymnology I am sure, there may be others well known to me that might be new to you and, as this one was, a means of blessing.

The one that has been much on my heart in the context of our last exchange regarding trials is a hymn of John Newton which you may well be familiar with. However, should you not be, I am quoting it in full.

It is to my mind unsurpassed as the simplest yet most profound experiential statement of the way God deals with us in love and mercy to conform us to the image of His dear Son. It was penned by a man who both knew the deepest of trials and was also one of the greatest saints by grace alone, (as he was the first to acknowledge.) It runs thus:

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