Borrowed Truths

The Character of a Christian (Part 10)

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The Character of a Christian (Part 10)

For those that say they know me, yet do not know me well, they would profess that this is the least of the character traits of a Christian that I possess, the trait of encouragement. I truly believe in my heart that I have been called to a path by our Lord that many would run away from, for they see it as a path of possible contention and not one of the wise that not only will offer, but hear rebuke and correction, (Prov. 15:31) especially in this world today where everyone should get a trophy, where shame and embarrassment are abolished if it feels good, where truth is what we decide it is. Many Christians today believe they have no right to correct or reprove a fellow believer in any matter because they themselves will always have a “log in their eye,” and therefore so does everyone else, (Matt. 7:5) and to speak even one word in this area would make them a hypocrite, like the Pharisee in Luke 18:11.

There are so many Christians today who feel it would be offensive to mention any possibility of growth to others, so they will encourage in areas that matter only in the flesh, in the transitory and temporal, but these can have rewards only here on earth. The fear of offending has taken the place of loving correction and reproof, and it is an evil and subtle plan of Satan, for when we pretend to care but do nothing about it, it still means we care, right? Stepping back in silent concern is easier than stepping forward in love.

Even when done in love, as it always should be, encouragement can be mistaken for self-righteousness, a form of vanity, and the hearer who has mistaken it in this way will be immediately put up an emotional wall of defense. What they do by this is to stop their ears and heart from hearing, for they believe that you are only trying to point out their faults. We are not speaking here of blatant sin by a brother or sister in Christ, for not to address that type of situation immediately can lead to dire circumstances from our Lord, and you must be willing to “step into the gap” at that time. (Ezek. 22:30)

The ‘pleasurable’ words of encouragement are generally quite easy for most to express; “Good job,” “I appreciate your help,” “You have been a blessing to me,” and they should flow from our lips frequently, other words of encouragement though are too many times heard in a way that they were not intended, even when prayerfully thought out. Sometimes it is because the person being spoken to is not quite ready to hear the truth about themselves, therefore they believe that you are only trying to point out their ‘faults’. Look at Proverbs 1:23, “Turn you at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will make known my words to you.” By informing our bothers and sisters in Christ of a known, not perceived, area of their lives where they are in need of reproof and correction, we are encouraging them to seek the face of the Lord for assistance in that area, we are in a sense saying to them that this is not right according to the Word and will of God, and I am here to assist you in whatever way I can to help you to correct it.

I know that many of you are thinking that this can only be accomplished if you have known this person for a very long time, that you have spent many hours with them in the past and have covered many different subjects together, but I am afraid to say you would be mistaken. Granted, that of course would be the best-case scenario, but it is not always going to be that way. It must be presupposed that if the person you are speaking to has said they are a Christian, then they, at least in their mind, believe themselves to be a follower of Christ, and if so, the truth of Gods Word should be a major factor in their life and the way that they desire to live it should be of utmost importance to them. If then reproof is needed, reproof and correction should be in love administered. Turn the tables, as it were, would you not desire if you were in need of the same, and did not even know it, for your fellow Christians to do the same for you.

It is an extremely difficult thing, to say the least, to see a brother in Christ who knows what the Word of God says about a particular subject yet is not being obedient to Gods will in that matter. “He that refuses instruction despises his own soul, but he that hears reproof gets understanding.” (Prov. 15:32) Is it because we are so fearful of what others might think of us that we are not willing to accept this instruction, is it necessary for so many to continue to believe that they are correct even when inside of themselves they know what they are doing is wrong, has humility truly left the hearts of so many.

I have found three following items to be almost consistently true about this subject; First, these that you are trying in love to assist will put up a defensive wall, as it were, for they will see this not as spiritual help, but as a fault within themselves that they do not want to face. Most generally this will be a person who has been saved for quite some time, but is not mature in the faith, or even an individual that has attended a church for an extended period of time, and perhaps is even in good standing, a long-time member of that congregation , if you will. It seems that the younger, still growing member of the body of Christ is nearly always willing to listen in these matters. Second, they will usually give excuses and rationalizations for why they are doing, or not doing what they know full well the Word of God is quite clear on. It is as if their own interpretations of the Scriptures is all they will listen to, or adhering to what the person behind the podium says is correct instead of what the word of God says. I find this to be the case many times, the misinterpretation of Scripture is quite common in many religious organizations, and to lead many astray is no new thing, but to show them the true path, or better yet, trying to assist them in seeing that path, can be difficult, to say the least. Thirdly, they will blame you for their ‘faults,’ pointing out something about you that they believe you should address in your own life, you will be blamed for showing them the truth about themselves. This of course is the last gasp of many of these individuals, for at this time within themselves they have begun to see that the reproof and correction you have been trying to address in their lives is in fact truth, but words of encouragement, as we have stated, are not always seen as such. When these occasions occur, we must step aside and let the Holy Spirit fulfil His desire in this individual through the words of another, or in a way of His own choosing, not because you have failed, for if we do what we are commanded to do by our Lord, no matter the outcome, we have not failed in that endeavor. Many times it takes numerous people to help these types of individuals, what we have been speaking on is usually rooted deep inside of them, but know for a fact, that if they truly are children of the Most High God, He will not leave them there, for He loves all of us, and it His desire for us to grow in our knowledge of Him and His purpose for each of our lives.

There cannot be, and I can’t stress this enough, there can be absolutely no self-piety involved here, your only desire should be for your brother to grow closer to our Lord, to continue to be in His grace and mercy, it must be for their growth and Gods glory only, these must be the only reasons. As we grow more, we can glorify Him more, and if a fellow believer is in need of help, even when they will not admit it, or at times even not be able to see it, we are to help, no matter the consequences to ourselves.

This is not an easy path for any Christian, and I have never taken the task at hand lightly when it presents itself, and neither should you when it is placed in front of you. Even after much prayer and consideration of the words that the Holy Spirit will place into your heart, you will be met many more times than not with rebukes and accusations. Many, many times your name in these incidences will be defamed, even pronounced as a curse word, as it were, but speaking personally, I have never much cared what people think of me, I am concerned with what God thinks of me, and if “I become their enemies because I tell them the truth,” (Gal. 4:16) then so be it, I can still praise His name for using me for His glory.

Words of encouragement will not always be accepted as intended, but many times God calls us away from our comfort zone, and when you heed this call for a fellow believers growth, you will find comfort in the fact that you have been obedient to the masters call, and there are not many comforts greater than that.

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