Tuesday, December 8, 2009

...MEDDLING! -- Devotional for December 9, from "Good Seeds"

Preach the word in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. (II Timothy 4:2)

I Timothy 4:8 tells us that bodily discipline has some limited merit, but that “godliness is profitable for all things.” The previous verse gives context to that word, godliness: “being constantly nourished on the words of faith and sound doctrine.” It is only in the Bible we find the godly life rightly defined, and only by obeying it can that life be refined. II Timothy 3:16 says Scripture is profitable for teaching (what to know), for training (how to live), but also for correction and reproof (beliefs and behaviors that poison the soul). I remember hearing my childhood pastor, Dr. J.C. Brumfield, say on occasion: “Now I’m going to quit preachin’ and start to meddlin’!” When he said this we knew he was going to start naming – not names, but sins – and that any sleeping in the church would soon be replaced by squirming! This is the third level of intensity God sometimes intends for us to use to build up one another:
Level Three: REBUKE (reproof and correction). It’s one thing to present truth, another to make application, but sometimes we must go one step further by being very specific (and sometimes very personal) in pointing out error in thinking, or sin in doing. Now we know that the conviction of sin is the Holy Spirit’s job, not the man of God’s, no matter how holy he may be. Still, the time comes when God uses one Christian to admonish another, not to judge, but to correct or reprove. The Greek word translated reprove means “to rebuke, admonish, to convince through evidence, to tell a fault." In I Thessalonians 2:11-12 Paul describes his relationship with that church: “You know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you, as a father would his only children, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of God.” This is the normal approach of a father to his children, or of a pastor to his flock: that of exhortation. I Corinthians 14:3 says, “One who prophesies (preaches) speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.” As difficult as this might be for the child – or for the church member – to take (as the writer to the Hebrews says: “I urge you, brethren, to bear with this word of exhortation” (13:22), occasionally gentle exhortation must give way to stern reproof, as that same writer indicates: “It is for discipline that you endure, for God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (12:7). And so it is that sometimes you and I must give or receive a hard word of reproof, when we would much rather speak or hear a gentle word of encouragement. But if done with great patience, for the sake of good instruction, in the end this will be the sweetest of all the one anothers.

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