Love Might Rebuke

For those who have ever struggled to uphold truth –whether it concerns ethics, equal rights, the inerrancy of the Scriptures, or even if the earth revolves around the sun and not vice versa!– there is something to be kept in mind. That is, that love is also to be upheld. Love for God, others, and the truth itself.

However, a problem often arises: Those who don’t agree like to suggest that disagreement, and certainly rebuke, is not loving. And of course, especially these days, to “be loving” is very politically correct –in Christian circles, but also in non-, though that’s often termed “unity” or “peace-efforts”. So to call, “Foul! –You’re being unloving!” is a favorite ploy they think will work. I mean, who wants to be known for having broken “the two greatest commandments”? Or of having been accused of intolerance?

Sadly, this tactic is working with many and is frightening those who believe in absolute truth. Society wants to tell those of us who stick to the infallibility of the Word of God that we are narrow-minded and bigoted, and believing in things like Judgment and Hell show we are grossly unloving. This was bad enough coming from the world, but now it is coming from those right INSIDE Christianity! Emergents are one group who resort to this. They have such a watered-down way of salvation, that they are trying to tell the rest of us that “Yes, Jesus is the best way for us, but for those in other religions… well, Jesus will accept them too. Because God is love. You are not showing us Christians to be Christ-like.”

Then we get the Christian-Buddhists… a group quickly increasing in number here in the USA. They say, “I like spiritual experiences, and yes, I do believe in a type of God… even the good man, Jesus…. but I also believe the Bible has been too tampered with to believe much of it…” That’s their rhetoric.

And on it goes… with all the cults… with all the false paths… with all the false gods being promoted…

What are we Truth-lovers supposed to do? We are to be loving. We are to strive for peace… though not at the expense of truth. So… how do we juggle this?

One way is to disassociate ourselves from fellow-shipping with them. Prov. 25:26 says, “Like a muddied spring or a polluted well is a righteous man who gives way to the wicked.” So definitely, when we encounter pressure from wicked people, we are not to give in to their ways, advice, philosophies, or beliefs. If we have any choice in the matter, we are not to allow ourselves to come under their control. We are to leave if possible.

Another option is to counter their error. This is something God’s Word also calls us to do. If He has given us the opportunity, and if there is abuse, mind-control, or anything immoral, unethical, or illegal being done, then a stand against that needs to be taken. Often the stand is against leadership, for it is those who, be it political, religious, or even social, wield much control over others.

Now what about those who are not necessarily “wicked”, but who are teaching falsehoods, even right inside mainline Christian church groups? Well, verses such as Titus 1:10,11 say that “rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers… must be silenced.” And how should we attempt to silence them? Verse 13 says “Rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith.” This was something that was indeed done by the apostles, the writers, the prophets, and certainly Jesus Himself. In Matthew 23 Jesus gives a scathing rebuke to the experts in the law, calling them all sorts of names and attributing to them all sorts of sins. Stephen, in Acts 7:51 called the religious leaders stiff-necked, deaf, betrayers, murderers, etc., yet verse 55, as well as 6:5,15 let us know that he was full of the Holy Spirit. And many, many other examples could be cited.

So, is rebuke “unloving”?  If done with a motive of love, it is not. Jesus says in Rev. 3:19, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.  So be earnest, and repent.”  Therefore, we see that rebuke to the foolish is actually a necessity if one truly loves and cares. It is also a necessity in upholding truth. And when it comes to upholding truth about God or His instructed way of salvation from an eternal death, it is the most loving action a person can extend to another.

Are there different types of rebukes? I use different types. To the timid, fearful, sincere, and/or humble I speak softly. I couch the rebuke as best I can in loving, uplifting, encouraging, even complimentary words. With many this works well. I look right into their eyes, and we connect. They know I love them, because Christ in me does. In fact, so very much. But do I withhold truth? No. I often take their hands and say, “Oh friend, you have to slay that sin. God will not allow in His presence one who is not repentant.”

But to the arrogant, or those who lord it over others –those experts in the law who should know better– I suppose I may sound a tad bit more harsh.

Well, let’s keep contending for the faith. And may our firm love for Truth also include love for each individual soul… whom Christ in us deeply cares about… even if it be tough love… —or love misunderstood.



~ by smilesback on October 25, 2009.

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