Taking the ME out of Messiah.

21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. 28 Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” –  Matthew 16:21-28 ESV

In response to Jesus’ question, “But who do you say that I am?,” Peter had been the first of the 12 to speak up, saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16 ESV). And Jesus had commended Peter for his answer, acknowledging that it had been revealed to him by God. Peter’s awareness of who Jesus was had come as a direct result of God’s revelation, not human intelligence or the teaching of men.

This common fisherman had been able to see something to which the learned scribes and Pharisees remained oblivious. They were experts in the Mosaic law and students of the Hebrew Scriptures, but had failed to see what Peter had seen. They had accused Jesus of operating under the power and influence of Satan. To them, He was little more than a heretic and a man who willingly associated with prostitutes and sinners. They were spiritually blind and unable to see what Peter saw.

Peter was blessed for having been given the capacity to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, but he was about to find out that the privilege of divinely inspired insight came at a cost. The disciples were able to see Jesus for who He was – their Messiah and Savior – but now they were going to find out exactly what that meant. Their preconceived notions of the Messiah’s role were about to be rocked. Any hopes they had of watching Jesus set up His kingdom on earth and placing them in positions of power and authority were going to be shattered.

Following Peter’s confession came Jesus’ revelation.

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. – Matthew 16:16 ESV

And we don’t have to wonder how this announcement impacted the disciples, because Matthew makes it quite clear.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” – Matthew 16:22 ESV

Once again, Peter was the first to speak up. But this time, his words would reward him with a rebuke from Jesus, not a blessing. In the Greek, Peter’s response was essentially, “God have mercy on you!” He was expressing his deep-felt desire that God not allow what Jesus had said to happen. Peter wanted God to forbid the words of Jesus from coming to fruition. In his impulsiveness, Peter was speaking from his heart. He was appalled by what he had heard. The thought of Jesus suffering and dying was not something he could get his head around. It made no sense. It didn’t fit into his expectations concerning the Messiah. And he couldn’t imagine that God would allow something like this to happen.

While Peter had been shocked at Jesus’ announcement, he was about to be rocked by Jesus’ response to him.

“Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, because you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but on man’s.” – Matthew 16:23 NLT

Ouch! That had to sting. Here was the man who had just been pronounced as blessed because of his confession that Jesus was the Messiah. Now, Jesus was calling him, “Satan.” What a dramatic turn of events. What an amazing fall from grace. Peter had gone from teacher’s pet to spiritual adversary. But why did Jesus respond so harshly? Peter meant well. He simply couldn’t imagine Jesus having to go through the things He had described. But Jesus saw Peter’s response for what it was: Satanically inspired.

Just as God had revealed to Peter that Jesus was the Messiah, Satan was attempting to influence Peter’s perception of what that meant. Satan wasn’t trying to dissuade Peter from believing Jesus was the Messiah. He simply wanted to confuse his understanding of the Messiah’s role. Like any good Jew, Peter’s view of the Messiah was somewhat self-centered and self-serving. He was interpreting his God-given awareness of Jesus as the Messiah through a man-made set of expectations. Notice what Jesus accused him of. He was setting his mind on man’s interests, not God’s. He was thinking about what he wanted from the Messiah, not God’s purpose for the Messiah.

Peter was displaying a what’s-in-it-for-me mindset that viewed the Messiah as the answer to all of his personal problems. To Peter’s way of thinking, Jesus was no good to him dead. But what Peter failed to understand was that Jesus would not be the Messiah or Savior unless He died. Jesus had not come to fulfill the will of men, but the will of His Father in heaven. And Peter was going to have to learn that his personal expectations of the Messiah were going to have to take a backseat to God’s will concerning the Messiah.

Which is why Jesus turned to all the disciples and said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24 ESV). All of these men had experienced the call of Jesus, inviting them to follow Him. Now, Jesus was letting them know the cost of that calling. Their original motivation to follow Jesus had been self-serving. They had seen something in it for them. But now, Jesus was telling them that their calling came with a cost: Self-denial.

Jesus had just revealed that the role of Messiah came with a tremendous cost. He would suffer and die. In the same way, the role of disciple came with a cost. Just as Jesus would have to die to Himself, they would be required to die to their own self-interests. Jesus would go on to tell His disciples, “whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:27-28 NLT).

Peter had simply wanted to save the life of Jesus. But Jesus told him, “whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25 NLT). The model for true discipleship was that of self-sacrifice and selfless service, not self-centeredness. Jesus was attempting to focus the attention of His disciples on the eternal rather than the temporal. He wanted them to think about the kingdom to come, not their own kingdom on earth. Peter wanted it all here and now. But Jesus warned that getting all you desire in this life was worthless if you ended up losing your soul. Temporal treasures and earthly kingdoms will all pass away. But those who focus their eyes on the eternal will discover that their future reward far outweighs any pleasure they find in the present.

Jesus ends His address to His disciples with a somewhat confusing statement:

“Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” – Matthew 16:28 ESV

These words must have left the disciples scratching their heads. They would have wondered what He meant. They would have wanted to know which of them He was referencing. And if we stop here, this verse will leave us just as confused as the disciples must have been. But we have the next chapter of Matthew’s gospel account to provide us with insight.

1 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. – Matthew 17:1-12 ESV

The disciples would have to go six days without a clue as to what Jesus had meant. Fortunately, we’re given an immediate understanding of just what Jesus had been talking about. But more about that tomorrow.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
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Sound Doctrine. Sound Faith.

For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work. – Titus 1:10-16 ESV

Like Timothy, Titus was one of Paul’s protégés. He was a Greek Gentile whom Paul had evidently led to Christ. This young man had actually accompanied Paul on several of his missionary journeys and had gained the great apostle’s trust, so that Paul was confident in sending him out on his own on numerous occasions as his representative. In fact, Paul had sent him to the island of Crete in order to help establish some sense of order within the churches there, including appointing elders to help him lead. “This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you” (Titus 1:5 NLT). As in the case of Timothy, Paul provided Titus with advice on how to deal with false teachers who had become a real problem within the fledgling churches on Crete.

Titus found himself ministering in a place where the reputation of the inhabitants was far from stellar. Paul even quoted Epimenides, a 6th Century BC philosopher and religious prophet who happened to be a Cretan himself. He said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12 ESV). Paul went out of his way to paint a less-than-flattering picture of the people of Crete. He described them as  “insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party” (Titus 1:10 ESV). Evidently, not only were the false teachers considered men of poor repute, so were some of the members of the local churches on Crete. So, Paul spent a great deal of time in his letter talking about good works. He wanted Titus to understand just how important good character and moral behavior should be in the life of every believer. Paul commanded Titus to deal harshly and firmly with those whose lives were marked by laziness and lying. He didn’t want his young disciple to tolerate the disorder and chaos these kinds of people were bringing into the church. He told Titus to “rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:13 ESV). Rebuking and restoration were both to be a part of Titus’ ministry on Crete.

Paul’s objective was to make these individuals “sound in the faith”. There was a real problem with false and deceptive ideas regarding the faith taking place on Crete. The faith refers to salvation as expressed through belief in Jesus Christ as Savior. The false teachers were confusing and even contradicting what Paul, Titus and others had taught regarding what it means to have faith in Christ and enjoy forgiveness of sins and a restored relationship with God. Rather than faith alone in Christ alone, new and confusing gospel messages were being taught, and the result was weakness in faith among the people. They didn’t know what to believe anymore. One of the qualifications for elders that Paul gave Titus was: “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9 ESV). These men were to be knowledgeable of the truth so that they might refute falsehood and rebuke those who taught it. As far as Paul was concerned, sound faith was totally dependent upon sound doctrine.

But these false teachers were teaching “what they ought not to teach” and all “for shameful gain” (Titus 1:11 ESV). Paul refers to them as being from the circumcision party. This is a reference to Jews who had expressed faith in Christ, but who held to the idea that Gentiles who became believers in Christ must also keep the Law of Moses and undergo the rite of circumcision in order to be truly saved. Paul fought this heresy with every fiber of his being. And Paul’s fear was that, based on the reputation of the Cretans, they would easily accept this false teaching, and end up “devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth” (Titus 1:14 ESV). The Cretans were easily swayed by the “commands” or teachings of these people, readily accepting what they had to say about circumcision, abstinence from certain foods, the keeping of Jewish feasts and festivals and adherence to the Mosaic law. But Paul warns Titus that these false teachers “claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good” (Titus 1:16 ESV). Paul makes it clear that the real problem with these false teachers was their hearts. He says, “Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted” (Titus 1:15 NLT). They were obsessed with the externals: keeping of laws and commands,  and adherence to rituals and religious rules.

There was an occasion when Jesus was approached by a group of Pharisees and religious leaders, who wanted to know why His disciples didn’t follow their man=made tradition of ceremonial hand-cleaning before they ate. Jesus responded to them:

“And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God? For instance, God says, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ In this way, you say they don’t need to honor their parents. And so you cancel the word of God for the sake of your own tradition. You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote,

‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship is a farce,
    for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’” – Matthew 15:3-9 NLT

 

Jesus went on to say: “It’s not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth” (Matthew 15:11 NLT). The Pharisees had missed the point. They were so busy keeping external rules that they missed the real problem: The condition of their hearts. And Paul knew that the false teachers who were so negatively impacting the churches on Crete had the same problem. Their minds and consciences were defiled. Their hearts were hardened to the truth regarding faith in Christ. They were convinced that there had to be more to salvation. Faith alone in Christ alone was not enough. Works of self-righteousness were necessary. But Paul describes them as defiled and unbelieving. They were wrong and they were dangerous. So Paul tells Titus to rebuke them sharply. He was to deal harshly with the false teachers, and he was to rebuke the Cretans who were so easily buying into their lies. Sound doctrine and sound faith go hand in hand. The Word of God is not open to our interpretation. We are not free to add to the gospel or alter the truth in any way. And we are not to tolerate those who attempt to mislead by misinterpreting what God has said. Again, that is why Paul told Titus an elder must “have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong” (Titus 1:9 NLT).

Paul had also written to Timothy, telling him that the purpose for his letter was that “you will know how people must conduct themselves in the household of God. This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15 NLT). The church and its leaders must adhere to and uphold the truth of God, especially as it relates to the message and means of salvation. There is no other gospel except the one we have been given: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31 ESV).

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

New Living Translation (NLT)
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The Message (MSG)Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Tough Love.

But I call God to witness against me—it was to spare you that I refrained from coming again to Corinth. Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.

For I made up my mind not to make another painful visit to you. For if I cause you pain, who is there to make me glad but the one whom I have pained? And I wrote as I did, so that when I came I might not suffer pain from those who should have made me rejoice, for I felt sure of all of you, that my joy would be the joy of you all. For I wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you. – 2 Corinthians 1:23-2:4 ESV

Even as an apostle of Jesus Christ, Paul did not see himself as spiritually superior to the Corinthians. He viewed himself as their ally and an asset to their spiritual development. He claims, “we work with you for your joy” (2 Corinthians 1:24 ESV). He, Silas and Timothy were tools in God’s hands, used by Him to assist the Corinthians in their growth and development. And in spite of some of the issues going on within the church in Corinth, Paul still felt like they were firm in their faith. This made his decision to delay his visit, fully based on the will of God, much easier to make.

But there was another reason he postponed his visit: to keep from causing them pain and sorrow. Evidently, Paul had made a second visit to Corinth some time between his original one when he helped establish the church there. It was on this second visit that he had to deal with some particularly difficult circumstances taking place in the church. This occasion had caused great pain. Being reprimanded is never easy. And having to be the one to call them out had not been enjoyable for Paul either. So, he says, “I decided that I would not bring you grief with another painful visit. For if I cause you grief, who will make me glad? Certainly not someone I have grieved” (2 Corinthians 2:1-2 NLT). It hurt Paul to have to reprimand those whom he loved. This reveals his pastor’s heart, his deep care and affection for the believers in Corinth. They were his children in the faith and he had a deep and abiding love for them and felt a strong sense of responsibility for them. 

Instead of paying them a potentially painful visit, Paul decided to write them a letter. “That is why I wrote to you as I did, so that when I do come, I won’t be grieved by the very ones who ought to give me the greatest joy. Surely you all know that my joy comes from your being joyful” (2 Corinthians 2:3 NLT). The letter, now lost, was evidently quite blunt and caused Paul “great anguish” to write. Having to write it caused him great sorrow and left him in tears. But it was necessary and written in love. It was Paul’s hope and desire that the Corinthians would take seriously the painful rebuke and loving reprimand found in his letter and do something about it. What he had written had been for their good and he longed for them to listen to his words and change their ways. Otherwise, when he did finally visit them, it would be another painful reunion.

While Paul loved and cared for the Corinthians, he loved them too much to allow them to continue in sin. His affection for them was based on the love of Christ and his knowledge that he was responsible to God for their spiritual welfare. Paul did not enjoy or take pleasure in hurting them. He simply wanted to see them enjoy all that God had in store for them, made possible by the death of Christ on the cross. Later on in this letter, Paul gives them an explanation for the harsh nature of his previous letter.

I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. – 2 Corinthians 7:8-10 NLT

Paul found joy in their repentance, not in their happiness. To refrain from telling someone the truth just because you don’t want to cause them pain is not love. It is a twisted form of hate. To knowingly allow them to continue in sin is cruel and makes you an accomplice in their sin. You are actually enabling their sinful behavior through you silence. Too often, as Christians, our fear of losing face or friends keeps us from saying what needs to be sad. But Paul believed that holiness was far more important than happiness. Our love for one another is best expressed in our unwillingness to tolerate sin in one another’s lives. Which is why Paul told the Colossian believers: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16 ESV). Jesus said, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3 ESV). Solomon wrote, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:3 ESV). David wrote, “Let the godly strike me! It will be a kindness! If they correct me, it is soothing medicine. Don’t let me refuse it” (Psalm 141:5 NLT).

Tough love is tough to pull off. It is difficult to confront those whom we love. It caused Paul pain to say what he had to say to the Corinthians. But it was necessary. It was the godly thing to do. He told the Corinthians that he wrote the previous letter “to let you know how much love I have for you” (2 Corinthians 2:4 NLT). When we care for another believer’s holiness more than we do their happiness, we truly love them. When we’re willing to risk their rejection in order to bring about their repentance, we truly love them. When their relationship with God takes precedence over their friendship with us, we truly love them. Faithful are the wounds of a friend.

 

 

Proverbs 9c

 

A Responsible Response.

“But correct the wise and they will love you. Instruct the wise and they will be even wiser. Teach the righteous and they will learn even more.” – Proverbs 9:8-9 NLT

Nobody likes to be corrected, right? Who in their right mind likes to be rebuked, called out, or even judged by someone else? Just the thought of it can raise my blood pressure. It causes me to stiffen up and start defending my rights, protecting my territory and justifying my actions as just and right. But according to the Book of Proverbs, there are a group of individuals, albeit a small group, who actually enjoy being corrected. In fact, if you do correct them, they will love you for it! Imagine that. Someone who actually loves being corrected. Their response is LOVE. The Hebrew word is ahab, and it is a verb that refers to human love for another. It is also translated as “friend” in the Old Testament. It is the word used of Abraham when he is called the friend of God. When you correct a wise person, he actually views you as a friend, not an enemy. He takes your correction as a good thing, not a bad thing. He is grateful because he understands that correction is the key to change and maturity. Sometimes we can’t see our own faults. We are oblivious to our blind spots and we need the input of others to help us recognize areas of our lives that need work. The wise man knows he has faults, whether he sees them or not, and does not become defensive or angry when they are exposed. Instead, he loves the one who corrects him. He is grateful.

The wise person also accepts instruction willingly and gratefully. He is wise because he loves to learn. He has an appetite for knowledge and so he gladly accepts instruction from others. In the Hebrew text, the word “instruction” is not actually there. It simply says, “give to the wise.” It carries the idea of exchange or interaction. If you interact with a wise person, they will grow in wisdom. They love the exchange of ideas. They are not afraid to debate, discuss, or expose themselves to other viewpoints. They are not one-dimensional or closed to hearing the other side of an argument. They will gladly dialogue and grow wiser through the exchange. If their viewpoint is right, they will remain firm in their conviction. If they discover they are wrong, they will grow wiser from having had the discussion.

You can teach the wise. They are not so sure of themselves or set in their ways that they refuse to learn from others. The wise are constant learners. They learn from their mistakes. They learn vicariously, voraciously and constantly. When we refuse to learn, we reveal that we are fools. Fools hate correction and instruction because they refuse to admit their own ignorance. They are content to remain foolish. Fools have a false view of life, seeing themselves as wise and everyone else as fools. The wise have a healthy view of life, seeing themselves as perpetual students and life as schoolroom. Their perspective is based on a fear of God that results in humility and a growing dependence on Him. Their love of learning and correction is based on their understanding that God is their teacher. He is the all-wise, all-knowing God who is constantly imparting His wisdom to them in a variety of ways through a myriad of sources. They see wisdom as a gift from God and learning as an opportunity, not a burden.

Father, teach me. Correct me. Mold me and make me into the likeness of Your Son. Give me the attitude of a wise man, so that I might love correction, teaching and instruction. Remove the pride from my life and make me moldable and pliable. I have much to learn. I have blind spots I can’t see. I have foolishness that needs to be exposed. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org

 

Proverbs 27

Cultivating True Community.

“Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.” – Proverbs 27:6 NLT

Let’s face it. Relationships are messy. Living with others can be difficult at times. But there is a huge advantage to living in true biblical community. And the Proverbs have a lot to say about the impact of wisdom and foolishness on our relationships. A fool is self-centered and myopic, only thinking about himself and tends to live with a certain level of insensitivity. He doesn’t think about how his words and actions will impact those around him. He doesn’t even care. But a man or woman of wisdom understands their responsibility to care about and care for those around them and the live accordingly. Those who live in true community understand that words are powerful. They know that there will be times when words of encouragement are needed, but also times when a word of warning or rebuke is necessary. In a healthy relationship to withhold a much-deserved rebuke is as wrong as refusing to express our love verbally.  “An open rebuke is better than hidden love” (Proverbs 27:5 NLT). While correction and criticism is never easy to receive, a true friend will care enough about us to tell us the hard truth. “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy” (Proverbs 27:6 NLT). Fools will tell us what we want to hear. They will tell us how wonderful we think we are, but overlook the faults in our lives that are preventing us from being who God wants us to be. False flattery is deadly. It puffs us up and gives us a false sense of confidence and feeds our self-righteousness. But a true friend will tell us the truth, even if it hurts. “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (Proverbs 27:17 NLT). Friendships should involve friction. But it should productive friction. As we rub up against one another in our relationships there should be a certain give-and-take that allows us to push, prod, and pull each other towards increasing righteousness.

Many of our relationships are shallow and dishonest. We refuse to speak truth into one another’s lives. We openly tolerate godlessness and flatter one another with words of kindness when what we really need is a swift kick in the pants and a dose of reality. But many of us are afraid to play hardball in our relationships because we fear what others may say about how we live our lives. We’re afraid that if we critique someone else’s life, it will leave the door open for them to return the favor. And we’re exactly right – it will. And we should welcome it. The truth is, most of us have no idea what we’re really like. We can’t see our faults and weaknesses. Our foolish friends will leave us thinking we don’t have any. But a true friend will point them out in a loving, caring way, and help us take steps to correct them. They are able to look into our lives and see our heart, something we can’t do on our own. “As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person” (Proverbs 27:19 NLT). We need one another. We need real relationships that produce real life change. True biblical community is messy. It involves transparency, accountability, honesty, humility, patience and love. It takes work, but it is worth it. Cultivating true community has long-term, real-life benefits. “Never abandon a friend – either yours or your father’s. When disaster strikes, you won’t have to ask your brother for assistance. It’s better to go to a neighbor than to a brother who lives far away” (Proverbs 27:10 NLT).

Father, You designed us for community, but what most of us experience in our relationships isn’t even close to what You had in mind. We are fake, shallow, dishonest and far too tolerant of ungodly behavior in one another. Give us a boldness to live in true community. Give us a desire to live in righteous relationships where we truly sharpen one another like iron sharpens iron. Amen.

Ken Miller

Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org