Friday, August 23, 2013

Be Not Weary

I believe wholeheartedly that God is still offended by sin. I do not believe for one minute that we get a free pass to keep on in sinful behavior/lifestyles simply because the blood of Jesus was shed for us. From time to time I see things and hear of things going on and I think to myself, "What use is it to ever say anything to anyone? What use is it to put yourself out there and be vocal about the truth you know, taking social risks and setting yourself up to be hated for standing up for righteousness?"

Most of the time people politely listen to the truth. Most even nod their heads in agreement.  But shamelessly later they go back to doing the very things that God abhors. I get so discouraged when I see people who claim to know God do this.  It is so easy to think that encouraging others to be holy is a hopeless cause. But these verses keep telling me to push on.

2 Corinthians 4:1 "Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart."
2 Thessalonians 3:13 "As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good."
1 Thessalonians 4:1 "Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more."

I never wonder why there are so many of the same kinds of commands. Don't grow weary, do not lose heart, do this more and more...Those of us fighting the good fight need this same encouragement today. It is all to easy to become discouraged, especially if you lose friends or family members because you stand firm for what God says is true.

I know there will be many that reject God and the Way. But I also know that not everyone who keeps turning back to their sin is someone who is lost. These next verses show me that some of my brothers and sisters in Christ choose to be rebellious and refuse to obey.

2 Thes. 3:14-15 "If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother".

As a believer I am not only supposed to live a holy life but I am also not to associate with those who refuse to commit themselves to becoming more and more holy. I speak of those who refuse to stop doing what God has said is sin, whether it's filthy thinking or speech, gossip, gluttony, envy, drunkenness, sexual sin, fraudulent activity, lying or spreading discord,hatefulness, any sin a brother refuses to forsake.  If a brother or sister in Christ refuses to stop doing sinful things we are to correct them and hold them to God's standard of holiness.   This is a hard thing to do. It's easier sometimes to believe the one verse the world knows and keeps screaming, "judge not!". But in reality the whole point of proper judgement within the church is to restore a brother or sister to a right way of living. The goal is not to feed our own sense self-righteousness or of personal indignation over sin, but rather it is to restore faithfulness and to actively love someone (not just with words and tongue, 1 John 3:18)  potentially saving them from the harm and sorrow that comes with living a sinful life.

Psalm 141:5 "Let the righteous strike me, it is kindness; let him reprove me, it is like oil on the head; don't let my head refuse it; Yet my prayer is always against evil deeds".

Here the psalmist demonstrates what the proper response of a believer should be to correction.  Pride often causes a person to refuse correction.  Pride discredits a rebuke by answering it with a rebuttal in defense.   It says,  "When you take the log out of your own eye you can take the speck out of mine." or  "Don't judge me because I sin differently than you."  Pride would have a person focus on the fact that no one is sinless and uses it to disqualify "the rebuke of a righteous man".  But Jesus has already condemned sin.  And it is the righteousness of Jesus that qualifies each believer to see sin for what it is and rebuke it.  It is up to each believer to submit to a life giving rebuke and turn from sin. We should model our responses after the psalmist who considered even the strike of a righteous man a kindness.  The strike of a righteous man reminds us of the Lord's hatred for sin.  His wrath for sin is still mounting.

Proverbs 16:6 "By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil".  The blood of Jesus saves us from God's wrath.  But the blood of Jesus does not make God "ok" with sin within us.  He will have our obedience.  One of His merciful ways to correct us is to use the life giving rebuke of our brothers and sisters in the Lord.  If we refuse this He will find other ways to remind us of His holiness and His wrath for sin. Hebrews 10:31 "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God".

As it has always been, most people criticize Christians for their obedience when we do what society thinks is unthinkable and actually dare to not only speak out against sinfulness but also to disassociate ourselves from those who refuse to stop sinning. I know from personal experience what it is like to be rejected by family, friends and acquaintances because I have stood unwaveringly in the truth. And I'll be honest, sometimes I get very discouraged. Jesus said that we would be persecuted. He warned us that we would be hated. I didn't realize how hard it would be when the hate would come from people I love.

A good friend reminded me recently of the verse, Galatians 6:9 "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." I am so thankful for faithful friends who speak truth to me and encourage me. 

Proverbs 27:9 "Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one's friend springs from his earnest counsel."

One of God's greatest gifts is the fellowship we have with other brothers and sisters in the Lord. The testimony of the Spirit of God within someone often times causes me to want to seek God more. The world and our enemy actively seek to stifle this gift.  Satan wants to isolate us.  He wants us to succumb to our pride and reject godly counsel.  He would have us believe that meeting together is not necessary but can be replaced sufficiently and without consequence by viewing sermons on tv or having "online church".  He wants to remove everything that causes us to seek holiness together because he knows that one of the strongest forms of inspiration is the testimony of the Spirit of God within us to each other.  He wants us to become discouraged with each other, causing us to focus on our failures and in this way make us want to avoid each other and effectively stifle the edifying sharpening that happens between men when they come together face to face regularly.  He uses our pride to bring this about and justify it.  

My purpose in writing this is to confess that I am often times so tempted to succumb.  I am tempted to isolate myself and remove myself from all areas of vulnerability and that includes sharing what the Lord has taught me.  I am tempted to keep silent about the things I see and hear and restrict my conversation to shallow niceties.  But I know that if I truly love you, I will deny my instincts to be self preserving and rather, be willing to give an answer for the hope within me.  I will tell you what I know God has said.  I will give you advice and counsel as best I can to the level I have learned.  And if you have learned something I have not or feel I need to be reminded of something I may have forgotten, I ask that you be willing to share your wisdom with me. 

That is my other purpose in writing this.  I want to encourage you, my brothers and sisters, do not withhold the gift of your counsel from each other. 

 "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear."  1 Peter 3:15

Keep seeking God together.  Do not grow weary in well doing for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.   Press on!   Keep the faith.   Keep speaking the truth.   Be not weary.

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