Saturday, December 20, 2008

Advent Week Three: Love ~ Day Seven

Today's devotion is by guest blogger, Kris.

2 Timothy 4: 1 & 2
I solemnly urge you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who will someday judge the living and the dead when he appears to set up his Kingdom: Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.

I recently met a young man who didn’t know how to do laundry, pay his bills, clean his house or cook his meals. He was 24 years old and didn’t have any skills needed to live on his own. His mother “loved” him too much. In her desire to show love to her son, she robbed him of the skills he would need to live well on his own in the world.

Now you may wonder what this has to do with you and with today’s verses. This past week we have been reading about love. We read about perfect love, and we thought about God’s love, and now we learn about another expression of love, “tough love.” We must take what we have learned in previous devotions about love and apply that to helping the church body grow in spiritual maturity. And it is tough both to give and to receive that kind of love.

Often times in a church setting we know each other’s faults, especially in a close-knit church. Sometimes jokes are made about those faults, or gossip or back biting, but how often do we correct those faults? How many times have you taken someone aside and lovingly and patiently told them the truth? Once? Twice? Never? Tough, isn’t it?

On the other side of that coin is how we receive correction. Proverbs says, “He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray” (10:17); “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.” (12:1); “He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored” (13:18); “Stern discipline awaits him who leaves the path; he who hates correction will die” (15:10) Get the idea?

Don’t shy away from either giving or receiving needed correction. To deny either one is foolish.
While it isn't your job to "straighten everyone out" it is important that you care enough to be honest. Pray before confronting someone, examine your own heart and attitude and always proceed humbly, gently and with love. If someone corrects you, listen, pray about it, evaluate it honestly, and work on it as appropriate. Do not respond in anger, but instead use the correction as a chance to grow and mature.

Prayer: Help me to be brave and to love enough to gently correct others when I see a continued wrong—and to be brave and humble and take the correction that is given to me. Amen

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