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– Begin Transcript –
Welcome to another Kingdom Hero Blogcast! On this final episode of the year 2020, we’re gonna look at an important topic for those of us who call ourselves Christians. As many people prepare to head into a new year, they often make resolutions – things they intend to do or quit doing, goals to lose weight or eat better, or perhaps a pledge to simply live life more to its fullest. A lot of those well-meaning resolutionists (to coin a term) end up giving up on those goals they set before the new year gets past the first two or three months. But this is a perfect time to talk about something that we all, as professing Christians, should strive toward… Improving our walk with Christ, and in so-doing, improving our witness to those around us.
Have you ever received a rebuke or correction from someone? Of course! At some point in our lives, we all get set-straight by our parents, our employers, or perhaps even by our peers. What about when it comes from a spiritual leader in our lives? How do we receive that rebuke? Do we take the correction to heart, or do we rebelliously reject it?
[movie clip: “You must choose, but choose wisely”]
This is the topic of our show today, and as always, I invite your feedback, thoughts, and opinions. Send me a message through the contact form on my website at kingdomheroblog.com/contact – again, that’s kingdomheroblog.com/contact. And standby as we close out the year with a bit of soul-searching. Stick around… I’m Stace Massengill, and I’m just sayin’.
– OPEN THEME –
I have to be honest here, THIS is one of those topics – again – that I personally have struggled with on numerous occasions in the past. Having served in the church for decades now, there have been a few times when a pastor has called me out on something that I was doing that I shouldn’t have been. As a young man in my mid-20s, I recall being corrected in church by a man who was my pastor at the time. Whether or not you’d agree with him doing that publicly is actually irrelevant. The point is that I was in the wrong, and he was well within his right as my spiritual leader to rebuke me for it. Now at the time, I didn’t like it too much. I kinda resented it. I was young and still rather immature in my Christianity, so I initially focused way too much on how his correction made me FEEL. Still, he was right, and I eventually came to realize that.
Let me give another example of what I’m talking about… A man serving as an elder in the church was once faced with a situation where he had to choose to either do what is biblically right or do what he wanted to do. I highly respected this man and called him “friend,” but that never came into play. He chose poorly, let’s just say, and so some correction was called for.
[movie clip: “He chose poorly”]
There is a very clear way – according to scripture – to handle matters like this in the church. That biblical protocol was followed to the letter, and still this man refused to do what was right. By the instruction in God’s Word, the end result was that he was stripped of his leadership role in the church. He wasn’t kicked out of the congregation or anything like that, but he could no longer serve as an elder.
This was a hard thing for everyone involved. The pastor and other elders followed what the Bible says, and in the end had no choice but to do as the Word instructs. They didn’t enjoy it one bit. No one liked what had to be done. But it was the right thing to do. People who profess to be Christians may be flawed and stumble on occasion, but when that corrective instruction is brought into play, we must make a choice: Do what’s right, or deal with the consequences of going our own way. And in the end, isn’t that what this life’s journey is all about? We learn as we go, and when we are faced with an open rebuke for doing something wrong or something that is unbecoming as a Christian, we have to make a decision to do right or go our own way and suffer the result.
But, I don’t want to jump ahead – we’ll come back to that thought later. Let’s look at what the Bible says about correction. Even from our youth, we are instructed of right and wrong and we get corrected along the way. We read in Proverbs 13: 24…
Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. (or “he who loves him disciplines him early.”)
This is referring to the rod of correction. Another passage says that “The Lord chastises those whom He loves.” Meaning that He corrects those He loves. Again, it’s one of those things that we know but have to be reminded of over and over. In 2 Timothy 3:15-17, it says…
…from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
See, correction is an integral part of our existence, and our growth, and our walk with a Holy God. Being Holy Himself, He requires us to be Holy. That means we allow Him to mold us, shape us, and build us into the men and women of God we’re supposed to be. It also means that we have to accept His correction graciously, as a child wanting to please the Father. As children, we often would tend to whine and complain about being corrected. But as full-grown adults who are claiming to be Christians, we shouldn’t be whining and complaining when we get that correction. We should be happy that He loves us enough to say, “Hey now, what you’re doing isn’t gonna fly. You’re my child. You need to do better.”
Some of you are parents yourselves, so think of this for a moment from the parental perspective. When you chastise your kids, your intent isn’t to make them feel bad in general. Your intent is rather to make them feel bad about doing wrong as a means of encouraging them to do right. Come on, if we’re doing something we know isn’t pleasing to God, then we OUGHT TO immediately feel bad about it – right?! So yeah, when you discipline your child, you want them to know deep down that what they did isn’t acceptable behavior. You are instilling within them that conscience that – yes – makes them immediately feel bad about doing wrong, so that they can learn to not repeat that mistake in the future. And that’s exactly what God does when He corrects us. He does it because He loves us. He does it because He knows we can do better. He corrects us to help shape us into mature men and women in Christ. And let me just add this – we are NEVER too old for God’s correction.
– Break Transcript –
Let’s talk a little about some different ways that God can choose to correct us. He can do it directly though the Holy Spirit. If you have grown even a little bit in your Christian walk, then you have likely been rebuked right away by the Spirit of God living within you when you did something you shouldn’t have. When the Holy Spirit bears witness with your own spirit in one of these occasions, you hear that little voice inside you say, “Whoa there, you really shouldn’t have done that.” You can call it conscience or whatever, but that is a direct result of the correction of God being applied to your life.
Alternatively, He often will correct us through some person in our lives. It could be someone we admire and respect, a friend, a co-worker, a boss, or a spiritual leader like a pastor. Now I remember working at a restaurant, being in the back kitchen, and saying something I really shouldn’t have said while trying to be funny – when a friend and co-worker turned to me and said, “Really, dude? Is that how a Christian should act?” Ironically, the guy saying this to me wasn’t even a Christian himself, but he knew that I was, and he rightfully called me out on my inappropriate attempt at humor. He might have just been busting my chops, but I was immediately convicted because I knew that I could not defend my unfortunate words. In that moment, I suddenly realized that my witness as a Christian was seriously lacking, and I had to respectfully admit to him, “You know what, man? You’re right. I shouldn’t have said that. I meant it as a joke, but it actually wasn’t funny at all, and I’m sorry.” It was very humbling, to say the least, but being corrected should always make us humble ourselves.
How about getting a rebuke from a pastor? I’ve already mentioned one of the times that happened to me personally in my mid-20s. But even more recently I was lightly chastised by my current pastor. Understand, I’m 50 years old, and my pastor is considerably younger than me. That doesn’t matter, of course, but it’s one of those things that satan will use to drive a wedge of resentment between you and a spiritual leader if you give him the chance.
What happened was, we were at praise team practice one day and I was in the AV booth running the sound board. One of the musicians – a gentleman of more years than I – made a comment to me about a concept of sound engineering that I was well aware of, and my response came out a bit less than respectful. I said something like, “I know, dude. I’ve been doing this for over 30 years.” The pastor was within earshot and immediately said to me, “Whoa now, let’s not be a smart-elic,” or something to that effect. Now I could have taken further offense and rebelled toward my pastor (who I love and respect), but I thankfully knew better. I apologized, and that was that.
When faced with correction from a spiritual leader, we can sometimes allow ourselves to get our feelings hurt – which is NOT the intention or the purpose of correction. The truth is that those hurt feelings are actually a result of pride. The Holy Spirit convicts us, and then the devil whispers words in our ears that lead us to believe that we were wronged by the one who rebuked us. No, no. My pastor was right to correct me, and he did it in a way that I knew he was simply trying to de-escalate a conversation in which I had responded badly. He pointed out my error to me, and I apologized. Honestly, I was grateful that he’d done it because my words could have otherwise been hurtful to the musician I’d spoken them to – who happened to be another man I love and respect and call “friend.” Sometimes we just do dumb things and need someone to help us take a step back and see where we went wrong so we can correct it ourselves.
Another thing about correction is that it can happen anywhere and at any time. In today’s modern technological world, our witness as Christians can be on constant and full display online. Whether it’s a video we upload, something we share, or a social media post, or even a podcast like this one – it’s easy to let our carnal side come out and be seen or read or heard by people all over the world. When we do that, when we allow our fleshly nature to obscure our God-given righteousness – the righteousness afforded to us by Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross – when we show a worldly side of ourselves to others instead of a Godly side, it does serious damage to our ability to reach people for Christ. Who’s gonna listen to someone talk about Jesus when that same someone is acting more like a sinner than a saint? Sure, we’re not perfect -YET. But don’t let that be a crutch. If we are truly letting Jesus be the King of our lives, calling ourselves Christians, shouldn’t we be allowing God to correct us so that we can be effective witnesses for Him?
If I were to – as I admittedly have in the past – post something on Facebook or Twitter or whatever, and it was something off-color or lewd or vulgar or otherwise demonstrative of being more worldly than Godly…and then my pastor or other spiritual leader were to see it and comment below it, saying, “Hey, brother. That’s not being a good witness,” or words to that effect… What would be my response to that? Would I get offended or mad about it? Would I reject that rebuke outright? Would I ignore it? Would I make an excuse? Would I let the enemy whisper in my ear and think to myself, “How dare he publicly correct me!” Would I allow my feelings to be hurt because of pride? Hopefully, I would do none of those things.
But all to often, we push aside the opportunity for spiritual growth in favor of being prideful and rebellious. That’s a natural progression, by the way. Pride leads to rebellion, and then that rebellion leads us to separation from God. Remember the saying, “Pride comes before the fall.” Do you know – really understand – what a dangerous thing pride can be? Here are a few synonyms for the word pride: ARROGANCE. CONCEIT. HAUGHTINESS. SELF-EXALTATION.
Now think about how such an attitude is seen by God. The Bible says that He “resists the proud.” In the face of Almighty God, how can we ever allow ourselves to be so arrogant – so conceited and haughty – that we would exalt ourselves or our own will to supersede His? That’s rebellion, folks. That’s like telling God, “Hey, talk to the hand.” Worse yet, it’s like giving Him the finger and saying, “You know what, God? I’m the king of my own life. I’ll just go ahead and do what I want, okay?” Who among us would dare say something like that to God? But that’s just what we’re doing when we rebelliously reject His correction.
We really need to be careful not to respond badly to a righteous rebuke. And that’s true whether it comes directly from God Himself or indirectly through an intermediary. If God is dealing with you about something in your life that needs to change – whether it’s an attitude or whatever – realize first of all that He wouldn’t bother to correct you if He didn’t love you. And that’s huge. Don’t just gloss over that point. I want you to hear that again and let it sink in… God would not bother with correcting you if He didn’t LOVE you.
Friends, the love of God is not something to take lightly. His love is amazing. It’s unconditional, unwavering, and it’s completely unlike anything else you will ever experience. It’s a hard thing to grasp, but we ought to spend more time trying to understand just how deep and wide and high and awesome God’s love for us really is. If we did that, really made the effort, then we would likely stumble a lot less. If we put our pride aside and stopped to realize God’s motivation for correcting us is indeed His incredible love for us, then we would probably accept His correction and repent and align ourselves with His will. Don’t ya think?
And then also remember this: When He corrects us, He is training us to be righteous followers of Jesus. Correction is one of the ways He equips us to do His work. What’s the goal? Winning souls for Christ. By correcting us, He helps us to be effective witnesses. We cannot hope to accomplish The Great Commission – to reach the world with the Gospel – if we are stuck in our immaturity as Christians. If we’re still on milk like babies, rather than daily consuming the meat of His Word, how can we witness to anyone? If we are rebelliously rejecting God’s correction and training, how can we ever hope to train anyone else in the ways of Christ? It simply can’t be done. We need His correction, and we need to be able to accept it graciously and with a humble heart and with a teachable spirit.
– Break Transcript –
I touched on this earlier when I said: We learn as we go, and when we are faced with an open rebuke for doing something wrong or something that is unbecoming as a Christian, we have to make a decision to do right or to go our own way and suffer the consequences. That’s what this journey through life, our Christian walk, is all about. It’s a training ground. Are we trainable? Or are we simply determined to go our own way? When I was in Basic Training in the Army, I saw young men get washed out because they were untrainable. For one reason or another, they couldn’t hack it. Either they were unwilling, had too much pride to allow themselves to be shaped and molded by the drill sergeants, or they were unable physically – which doesn’t apply to our training as Christians because God equips us with everything we need. But I saw a lot of mostly 17-year-old boys at boot camp who were just too stubborn for their own good. At that age, a lot of us tended to think we knew a lot more than we did, and many of these guys just said, “no, I wanna go my own way.” The book of Proverbs plainly tells us an important truth about this – in two different verses, it actually says the exact same thing. Proverbs 14:12 and Proverbs 16:25 both say the following…
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
I mean…THAT’s pretty clear. As we go through life, there are many occasions when we come to a crossroad or situation where we have to decide which way to go. We can go our own way, or we can go God’s way. Most of the time, if we’re honest, those two ways are totally different. Our carnal nature is gonna pull us one direction when we should go the other. This scripture says it in a manner that’s easy to understand – there’s a way that seems right to us, to our flesh, but that way will lead us to death. It will lead us away from God. When His correction comes, we can either accept it graciously, or we can reject it rebelliously. The choice is ours to make. One way leads to His favor and keeps us in His will and on the road to everlasting life, and the other way leads to a spiritual death and separation from God for all eternity. We need to make certain to choose wisely.
[movie clip: “You have chosen wisely”]
In scripture, we see plenty of examples of people making bad choices and it leading to their demise. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were totally destroyed by God because of their sin. In Acts chapter 5, we read about Ananias and his wife Sapphira, who sold a piece of property, holding back a portion for themselves but LYING and misrepresenting the portion they gave to the temple as though it were the full price they were giving so that they would seem more righteous and generous by the people – they were each struck dead by God Himself for this egregious act. But we also read about when people heeded the words of correction and were spared God’s wrath. Remember the story of Jonah and the whale?
Most people recall the amazing story of how Jonah initially refused to do as God instructed him – he didn’t want to go preach to the Ninevites because they were so sinful, so he hopped on a boat headed in the opposite direction. That was the bad choice. And God sent a storm that threatened the ship, so they all thought “God is mad. We need to throw someone overboard to appease Him.” They had a skewed idea of God, but Jonah knew why God had sent the storm – he had disobeyed the Lord. Then they all drew lots to see who should be thrown out of the boat, and Jonah got the short straw. So, SPLASH! Into the water he goes, only to be swallowed up by a huge whale. See how one bad decision, going against the will of God, can wreak all kinds of havoc on your life?
So Jonah spends a few nights in the belly of the beast – literally. And he prays to God. He’s sorry for disobeying the Lord. OH BOY, is he sorry! And God sends the whale to cough Jonah up on the beach of – guess where? – Nineveh. You can read this for yourself in the Bible – the book is called “Jonah” – I mean, it’s not hard to find. And so Jonah goes on to preach to these awful sinful Ninevites that God is gonna rain down His fury upon them because of their evil ways. That’s when something happened that Jonah didn’t expect…
See, these wicked people of Nineveh actually took Jonah’s words of impending doom to heart. They heard him preach about this Holy God who demands holiness and they began to feel convicted. The story goes on to say that they even repented of their wickedness. This was the good decision. Many stripped their clothing off and began wearing sack-cloth. They sat in ashes, weeping and truly regretting their sins. Their humble attitudes changed the heart of God. When He looked and saw how sorry the people of Nineveh were, how they discarded their pride and put on humility, how they repented and turned away from their sin…He had compassion on them. Instead of destroying them as planned, God spared them. And we can learn a valuable lesson from that.
Of course, there’s more to the story and to the book of Jonah, and I would encourage you to read it for yourself – especially if you never have before. But I think the point here is pretty clear: The choices we make in this life can literally mean the difference between destruction and deliverance, and it truly IS up to us. God gave us free will. I’ve heard people ask, “Why would a loving God send people to hell?” But He doesn’t send people to hell, people choose their own eternal destination when they choose to either accept or reject God’s Son who came to deliver us from sin and from death itself. And while God is indeed loving, He’s also holy and righteous. More than 600 times, the word holy is used in the Bible – so it must be of some importance. And more than once, God says, “You shall be holy because I am holy.” Our choices indicate whether or not we are willing to be more like Him.
So, when you are faced with a righteous rebuke – a correction from God – whether it comes directly from the Holy Spirit or from a friend, colleague, or pastor… How do you choose to respond? And what does your choice say about you and your willingness to become more like Jesus? Remember again, God corrects you because He loves you. And also remember how the Ninevites responded to Jonah’s words by putting aside their pride and taking on humility instead. How willing are you to do the same?
As we move into a new year, I sincerely hope you will give this matter some serious consideration. I’m Stace Massengill, and I’m just sayin’. May you have a very happy and blessed new year!
– END Transcript –
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