This is our third and final week of Danger Ahead. I’ve got to tell ya that I am relieved to be done with this! It is hard to discuss hard things. I have felt strongly that this was the direction to go, but it hasn’t been easy. I wrote the first week about holiness and discipline. (link) Then last week, I talked about spiritual maturity (link).
When I was in college, we had a mission’s service every Friday night. Missionaries and pastors would come and tell us about their part of the world and what was going on in their ministry. There was one that has wrecked me for the last 13 years.
Author and speaker, Alicia Chole, delivered a message one of those Friday nights entitled, “9 Woes to this Generation.” It was a strong rebuke, but she delivered it with such grace and love. Woe means “great sorrow or distress”. The way she carried herself while she was delivering it was stunning. She grieved as she spoke the words and tried to be so careful with our souls. You don’t even want to know the number of hours that I spent trying to find a link to that message for you. This was as close as I could find. It is a series of blogs by her that are similar (https://aliciachole.com/seven-woes-generation-part-1-alicia-britt-chole/). She asked those of us in the congregation to stand as we felt convicted and to respond during the message. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced. College kids were sprawled out all over the place, mourning their sin and weeping for the pride that the Holy Spirit was exposing in us.
Here are 7 of the 9 Woes by Alicia Chole (her blog only lists 7):
- Woe to us when we sacrifice unity on the altar of uniqueness. Will we bend toward other generations?
- Woe to us when we protect wolves. Will we fight to discern between mercy and deception?
- Woe to us when we crave fame. Do we possess the strength to be nothing?
- Woe to us when we justify unfaithfulness to the church. Will we commit to the gathered people of God?
- Woe to us when we squander today straining toward tomorrow. Will we savor this gift called time?
- Woe to us when we attempt to outrun addictions. Will we slow down and seek help?
- Woe to those who prefer the spirit of control over the spirit of liberty. Will we expend the energy to pursue interior holiness?
This list still makes my stomach ache. It is so eloquent, but so exposing. I think if I had to sum it all up, it would be something along the lines of:
“Woe to us when we are offended by rebuke. Will we let go of the need to feel good in order to live well for Jesus?”
It’s seems at times that we have forgotten that being rebuked or corrected is good for us. It’s really a blessing. In fact, rebuke is all throughout the Bible. I am reading through 2 Samuel in my Jesus time right now. In chapter 12, David had committed a grave sin by committing adultery with Bathsheba, and killing her husband, Uriah, to cover it up. So God sent Nathan to rebuke David. Then, in the New Testament, Jesus strongly rebuked Peter and called out satan who was working through Peter in that moment. (Matthew 16:2). Here are some other scriptures about rebuke:
“Better is open rebuke than hidden love,” (Proverbs 27:5 ESV).
“If anyone falls into sin, call that person on the carpet (rebuke). Those who are inclined that way will know right off they can’t get by with it,” (1 Tim 5:20 MSG).
“Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you,” (Titus 2:15 ESV).
“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching,” (2 Tim 4:2 ESV).
“So watch yourselves!“If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive,” (Luke 17:3 NLT).
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend [who corrects out of love and concern],
But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful [because they serve his hidden agenda],” (Prov. 27:6 AMP).
I think we can easily fall into extremes on both sides of this issue. We don’t want to walk around, full of pride, with our eyes looking for people to rebuke. I had a mentor who used to say, “A rebuke is only as strong as the relationship.” In other words, don’t walk up to random strangers and start listing their flaws. If you aren’t invested in their success, they won’t trust you to speak into them. And on the other side, if there are people in your world who need gentle correcting, don’t be afraid to speak up.
Here are the last few scriptures from week one of this series and I think they are a perfect recipe for how to have a hard, corrective conversation with someone:
14 “In every relationship be swift to choose peace over competition, and run swiftly toward holiness, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 15 Watch over each other to make sure that no one misses the revelation of God’s grace. And make sure no one lives with a root of bitterness sprouting within them which will only cause trouble and poison the hearts of many.
16 Be careful that no one among you lives in immorality, becoming careless about God’s blessings, like Esau who traded away his rights as the firstborn for a simple meal. 17 And we know that later on when he wanted to inherit his father’s blessing, he was turned away, even though he begged for it with bitter tears, for it was too late then to repent,” (Hebrews 12:12-17 TPT).
Those words are full of direction:
- Chose peace over competition.
- Run towards holiness.
- Watch out for each other.
- Grace is the way.
- Do not allow bitterness.
- Don’t live in immorality.
- Don’t miss your blessing.
I am a strong-willed gal. I have lots of things swirling through my head and I usually think I am right about whatever thing I am stewing over. My poor husband! Do you know what one of the best things is that he does for me? He tells me “no” and doesn’t let me get away with my junk. He calls me to the carpet. He knows that I am better than the attitude that I sometimes let run free.
That is love. He is loving me by rebuking me. He speaks to me with kindness. He NEVER threatens to leave or gives up on me. He just lovingly turns my gaze towards the places where I have blind spots and helps me grow.
Men and women of God, we need to speak up. We need to grow. We need to have hard conversations with people who are hurting themselves and others. Without the blessing of rebuke there is Danger Ahead.
“One word of correction breaks open a teachable heart,
but a fool can be corrected a hundred times
and still not know what hit him,” (Prov. 17:10 TPT).
We need to be able to hear hard things about ourselves without putting up walls. We are the light of the world and it is our responsibility to set the atmosphere in culture. We are to raise the standard. Let’s commit to God and to one another to correct with grace and to welcome correction as the wonderful friend it is.