We currently live in an age where truth is projected as a fleeting fantasy or it’s reconstructed as an oppressive notion. The ideas of our postmodern age, sadly, have infiltrated and contaminated the professing church through enemies of the cross and undiscerning ears. It is because of the failure to adhere to truth that the church exhibits stagnation and retarded growth. The failure of adhering to truth is not of a theoretical issue alone, but a practical one. We do the truth of the gospel no good when we fail to exhibit it practically. We bear the fruit of postmodern theory when we fail to walk in truth. So what does it mean to walk in truth? Psalm 86:11 says this:
Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
First, walking in truth involves understanding His ways, His commands and precepts. So there is an instructional aspect. Next, the Psalmist prays for the effect of the LORD’s instruction: to obey His truth. The Psalmist is praying for comprehensive obedience. And this comprehensive obedience is for what end? To deliver him from the duplicity resident in his heart. We must have undivided, right and reverent affections, with the chief affection being the glory of His name. This is what it means to fear His name.
But let’s be a little bit more specific. I am going somewhere with this!
What does walking in truth look like in the relational dynamic of the brotherhood, which is united in one Spirit?
To put it simply, we are to walk in love toward one another for the advancement of the gospel for the glory of Christ.
Let us not be naïve to think that this love is a cocktail of warm thoughts, nice gestures, and complimenting words. It is much more. It is much harder. Why?
The core of our relationships with one another is about the glory of Christ. I believe this should be the primary focus of our relationships, which takes grace from God to comprehend such a blessed reality. (Philippians 1:27) But the precursor to that is to see the beauty and perfection of Christ Himself to rejoice in such a privilege. Such is the reason for our sanctification. We were predestined and saved to be His image bearers. (Romans 8:29) And in the wisdom and love of God, He’s designed for that sanctification to happen through relationships, which involves transparency, honesty, humility, and at times painful rebukes. Yes, rebukes!
It angers me that it seems like the church (at least in America) thinks it’s above being reproofed. As long as we are on this side of glorification, biblical reproofing is to be done when necessary. It is the foolish and prideful person that refuses to take heed of his sin. It is also the jaded individual who accuses the reproofer of being uncharitable. That is severely unbiblical! In fact, Scripture tells us that discipline is an expression of love. The writer of Hebrews says to Israel:
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
6For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
7It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
That’s grace!! The purpose of reproofing is that we may turn from sin, share in His holiness which leads to the peaceable fruit of righteousness. It would be highly unloving of God to not discipline His children and instead let them persist in sin and reap the damaging consequences thereof.
There will always be a constant fight to preserve our self image versus abandoning ourselves humbly to the obedience and glory of God. Abandoning ourselves to God involves a constant tearing down of the high place of self-idolatry. This is what Jesus meant when He said, “Abide in me…”
I can guarantee that before we go to be with our Lord, we will find ourselves on both sides of this issue. When we see the need to rebuke someone, let our motivation be love for our brother or sister, their repentance and God’s glory. When we find ourselves on the receiving end, let us respond humbly understanding that this a practical demonstration of the love and grace of God toward us. That is walking in truth! That is walking in the fruit of the gospel of grace!
Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness;
let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head;
let my head not refuse it.
Lord, continue to give us the grace to not be practical postmoderns and soften our hearts to receive your correction when needed.
Grace & Peace,