20 July 2010

Love Requires Admonition

"Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted." -- Gal 6:1 (NKJV)

Admonition, chastisement, reproof, rebuke, 'fronting out, whatever you want to call it, is a sign of true, deep and unconditional love. Of course we would love it if the people who profess to love us would just leave us alone sometimes -- or anyway, we think we would love it -- but what good does it do for us to be allowed to stumble without being held accountable for our actions?

That's really what admonition is about: accountability. I know that the ability to rebuke your loved ones is a sign of true and unconditional love because God Himself embodies a love that chastises wrongdoing and rewards righteousness.

"My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor detest His correction; for whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights." -- Pro 3:11-12 (NKJV)
[Jesus said] "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten [discipline]. Therefore be zealous and repent." -- Rev 3:19 (NKJV)

I grew up in a household where everyone was held accountable for everything they did. We were not allowed to make excuses for ourselves or blame our circumstances for our mistakes. We were punished commensurate to the mistake we had made, and often this hurt:

"Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peacable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." -- Heb 12:11 (NKJV)

But I know that I am a better person for it, and now I recognize in myself my own weaknesses, and I strive to accept responsibility for the mistakes I make. It may take me a while to realize I have done wrong, but I repent of this weakness and work to be better about recognizing the beam in my own eye, etc...

Seriously, though, how can I love someone and watch them fail? The simple answer is, I can't. I can't control the actions or the consequences of those I love, certainly, but I can do my best to instruct them in the ways of righteousness. The key is not to be some kind of high-minded know-it-all about the situation. Who am I?

[Jesus said] "I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge: and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me." -- John 5:30 (NKJV)
[Jesus said] "Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment." -- John 7:24 (NKJV)

Righteous judgment relies not on what I can see, or what I presume to have seen, but rather on what God has revealed through His Word to be correct and within His will. Righteous judgment also manifests itself in the fullness of grace and forgiveness.

"Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one." -- Col 4:6 (NKJV)

Again, we must be able to back ourselves up with the Word of God.

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." -- 2 Tim 3:16 (NKJV)

If I cannot support my conviction with the Written Truth, then I am probably not acting on conviction but instead am acting out my feelings. That's not admonition out of love, but out of anger. However, regardless of whether the ears I speak to listen, the Truth does not go forth void, and the seeds of wisdom I plant begin a process of change that may be instantaneous or a long, painful road to repentance.

How my dearest react to admonition is beyond my control. Whether they listen to me or continue to go their own way is beyond my control. What is within my control is whether or not I choose to allow my dearest to stumble about blindly when I know the way they should go.

If I love, then I love completely. If I love completely, then I cannot watch silently while those I love enter gates that lead them into harm's way. God willing, the words I speak will be in love and filled with grace, and the Truth will bear good fruit in the lives of my loved ones.

"These things also belong to the wise: It is not good to show partiality in judgment. He who says to the wicked, 'You are righteous,' him the people will curse; nations will abhor him. But those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, and a good blessing will come upon them." -- Pro 24:23-25 (NKJV)

¡Gloria a Dios!

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