Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

Admonish One Another

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InspirationDC via photopin cc

“Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Proverbs 27:5-6

There is a lot of confusion these days about the function and design and purpose of the church. Let me clarify that when I use the word “church”, I am not referring to a building. We are the church. You and me. The church is the brethren of believers that are scattered here and there, meeting in fellowships nearby and around the world. So when I talk about the church here, I’m talking about God’s people. The Church of the Way, as it was called in early church history.

The Church has many functions, as described by the New Testament books. Yet, it seems we have all but abandoned certain aspects of, what the Word of God said, were important roles and responsibilities towards each other. You see, we are called to love one another, to build relationships, and to allow the Lord to knit us together into a beautiful woven, open and welcoming community. We are called into closeness and family…not Sunday morning smiles and empty greetings. We are called to something deeper and more real. Real church.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,  bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:12-17, ESV

We are God’s chosen ones, and therefore we are called into a certain type of relationship with each other. Let’s make a list of some of the aspects of this calling as stated here in this chapter of Colossians:

  1. Compassion
  2. Kindness
  3. Humility
  4. Meekness
  5. Patience
  6. Bearing One Another’s Burdens
  7. Forgiving
  8. Loving
  9. Peaceful
  10. Thankful
  11. Teaching
  12. Admonishing
  13. Praising God Together

This is a great list, and we could do a study about each of these aspects, but today I want to focus on the one word on this list that people seem to really shy away from in the church: admonishment. Throughout the New Testament we see admonishment and yet in the modern church we rarely see it. I believe there are a few reasons for that: 1. People don’t often build the type of relationships in which it’s appropriate; 2. Many churches don’t make this Biblical practice a part of their culture and therefore people just don’t understand the importance and benefits; 3. Many churches are all about getting people in the door and less about the spiritual growth of the congregation; 4. People are not used to being confronted about their sin; and 5. People are unwilling to move past their comfort zone into all that God has for them.

Admonishment is not a bad word when you understand the meaning, purpose and benefits. The word “admonish” doesn’t mean to discipline someone. The actual translation is more like “a warning”. In other words, when you admonish someone you are warning them about sin they may not see and/or the possible consequences of that sin. It is not a harsh spiritual lashing, but a loving warning from a friend…an encouragement to turn away from a sin that is detrimental and in order to grow spiritually.

The benefits of admonishment are beautiful. When my husband and I first got married and lived in Scotland, we were part of a church that truly believed in discipleship and New Testament relationship. My pastor’s wife, a wonderful sister who encouraged me in so many ways, admonished me at times in my walk and in my marriage. While no one’s pride enjoys their sin being brought to life, I was open to her warnings and they ultimately brought me into a deeper relationship with God, a much better marriage and a more full church life experience. We are called to admonish one another for the sake of edification.  The scripture is full of examples and instruction in this way.

“I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.  Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.” Acts 20:29-31

“I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children.” 1 Corinthians 4:14

“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you…” 1 Thess. 5:12

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Galatians 6:1

“Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.” 2 Thess.3:15

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” Proverbs 19:20

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” 2 Timothy 4:2

 

In order to build a community and a culture in which admonishment is  a normal part of life, we need to build close relationships. I know that as a believer I want my closest friendships in the body to be with others who want all of what God has for us. Therefore I want to build up relationships where speaking the truth in the love (even admonishment) is welcome and expected. We have to build relationships for this to happen. Admonishing someone you barely know is not always wise or expedient. We don’t run around warning everyone of their sin. This is an aspect of the church family that is found in close knit relationships, where iron sharpens iron (usually making a spark) and where the entire relationship is covered in love, prayer and truth.

Pray about it brethren. Pray about building relationships within the church family that are strong enough to be real with one another. Walking in love and unity, take on the call to admonish, confess, edify and help one another grow up into spiritual maturity. It’s what God wants. We know that from the scripture. We need this blessed benefit of the church family in our lives. We certainly do.

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Too Much Self-Love Going On

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Ignacio Conejo via photopin cc

Self-love is a modern-day cover up. It’s a scam. It’s a cheap imitation for the love that is supposed to be filling our hearts. You see, self-love isn’t all it’s hyped up to be. Sure, you’ll hear the talk show hosts and the psychologists and the self-help gurus go on and on about it, claiming that self-love is all one needs to have peace in this life. They will tell you that loving yourself is the first priority…

“You need to take care of yourself….”

 

“All that matters is that you like yourself….”

 

“At the end of the day, you only answer to yourself….”
“Do what’s best for you…”

 

“You deserve to be happy…”

 

“You can’t love someone else if you don’t love yourself….”

I’ve heard it all my life, and I’m sure you have too. In fact, maybe you’ve said these catchphrases to others at times. Maybe you believe them sincerely. I mean no disrespect or offense when I say that you’ve been greatly misled. Here are some of the reasons why self-love is not our friend, but actually oftentimes our enemy…

  1. Self-love is self-focus and leads to self-centeredness and selfishness. Now that’s a tongue-twister! Self-love is basically a means of shifting all of the focus to yourself. Your focus is on loving yourself so you think about yourself excessively. Since when is your life all about you? I tell you what, the people I’ve known in my life who are the most well-rounded, joyful and peaceful people are those who think very little about themselves. They are too busy being a blessing to others to spend hours and hours, day after day meditating on themselves. In shifting their focus to serving others and seeking the Lord, they find peace and contentment. Self-love makes people believe that it’s all about them. That’s not healthy and not pretty. It can definitely lead to a selfish kind of heart.
  2. Self-love ruins relationships and marriages. That’s right. People who say that you have to love yourself before you can love others are wrong. The ONLY way to truly love others is to lay down your life. The ONLY way to love your husband in the way that God commanded is to be willing to put his needs ahead of your own. The ONLY way to be a good mother is to love those children more than you love yourself. When people focus on self-love, they will eventually come to the conclusion that they are not being treated good enough in their marriage or that they are not being appreciated enough by their kids. We see people committing adultery. We see mothers abandoning their children and running off with a lover. We see men and women filing for divorce like it’s the same as trading in an old car. These are the acts of selfish, self-centered, and self-loving people. They love themselves more than the people they should be giving their lives for, and the result is pain and suffering. In friendship, it gets real old when one friend is constantly talking about herself and never has time to listen, doesn’t it? Self-love destroys relationships and families.
  3. Self-love focus is anti-Biblical.

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people” 1 Timothy 3:1-5

 

“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” Matthew 16:24-25

 

Over and over throughout scripture we are told to love God, love others and serve. We are never told to love ourselves….not once! The truth of the matter is there is no need. It is assumed that we love ourselves because loving ourselves is part of our nature. When God commands us to love others as ourselves, He is assuming (and God’s never wrong) that we do love ourselves. So, you and I already love ourselves plenty. Why do I sometimes hate the person that I am, you may ask? Well, sometimes we hate the sin in ourselves, especially when we have received the Holy Spirit and are filled with conviction.

Sometimes we hate the circumstances of our lives…things that have been done to us or the situation we find ourselves in regarding health, finances, etc. We hate our lives but we don’t hate ourselves. Sometime we really honestly do feel hatred toward ourselves, but the truth is, if we didn’t care about ourselves we wouldn’t feel such strong feelings. We would be indifferent. See, hatred isn’t the opposite of love. Indifference is the opposite of love. The truth is that we love ourselves, and therefore when we hated the circumstances we are in or the person we have become, we feel it strongly.

Friends, there is enough self-love going on. It is leading to divorce. It is leading to worldly pleasures. It leads to people living lives of self-contemplation and missing out on the joy of taking up God’s great commission. We have so much work to do, sisters. We have a world full of lost souls who need Jesus. We have people to minister to. We need to stop looking in the mirror all the time and start looking around us. I guarantee you, when you start looking at others instead of yourself, you’ll be a happier person. In fact, when you let go of your need for self-love, and you focus on God-love and loving your neighbors, you are going to end up liking the person that you are in a true way. That’s the key.

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Is My Daughter Too Kind? Sweet? Friendly?

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(photo: Tabitha with her sweet friends Scarlet and Eden)

It happened at the play area in McDonalds today (I hate McDonalds but my little one loves the play area). It was busy and there were lots of kids running about and climbing through the colorful mishmash of fun. I could see my daughter interacting with other kids and hear her sweet words saying, “Hi. My name is Tabitha. Want to play with me?” This isn’t odd for her. She is usually outgoing and quick to make friends. She rarely needs encouragement to introduce herself.

As I watched and listened, taking sips from my diet coke (yes, I know it’s bad), I witnessed an encounter that just breaks a mother’s heart. My daughter was attempting to play with an older kid and his sister. She said to them, “you are my new friends.” The insensitive older boy replied, “we’re not your friends.” Taking his sister’s hand, he led her away to play elsewhere.

Ugh. My heart sank for my sweet girl. In her eagerness to reach out and make a friend, she had been shot down. I hurt for her, knowing her feelings had been hurt. I wanted to sweep her up in my arms and give dirty looks to that rude kid, but I knew that these kinds of things are just a part of life, and particularly of a Christian’s life. You see, she made herself very vulnerable. She put herself out there. She was kind and friendly. She was welcoming and warm. In return, she was slighted. It happens. As a Christian, I understand that on a deeper level and am willing to let her experience it so that she too may be an effective follower of Jesus some day.

We are supposed to be vulnerable. We are called to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute, reach out to the lost and angry, and minister to whomever God puts in front of us. We are supposed to love the unlovely. We are called to show grace and mercy, and we are supposed to love freely as Jesus did. He’s our example. He loved. His love and kindness made Him stand out. People were drawn to His kindness and love, and when we walk like Jesus, they will be drawn to Him by seeing His love in us.

What my daughter experienced today made me so sad for her. As we got into the car, I explained to her that some people were not ready to be kind to others or make new friends. I tried to explain in the simplest terms that it was wonderful for her to be kind and to offer friendship to others and that his rejection was only because he didn’t know how to be kind or even that he should. I assured her that she was a great friend and that anyone would be blessed to have her as a friend, but that sometimes people reject our friendship because they have their own problems and they take it out on us.

Maybe it was a little deep, but I wanted to use it as a teaching experience. As I pondered the event, I started to wonder if perhaps I was wrong to raise Tabitha to be friendly and warm. Maybe I had taught her to be too friendly? Too kind? Too open-armed? Perhaps I should toughen her up, like the rest of the world? After all, she is so vulnerable when she puts herself out there. She opens up her heart to hurt and rejection. She leaves herself wide open to disappointment. The world is creating kids who are tough as nails, what with all of the divorce, violence, drugs, etc. Maybe I should teach Tabitha not to make new friends and to make people earn her love rather than giving it freely? Maybe I should encourage her to be cold, critical and selective?

No. I won’t.

This world has too many cold people already. The world has too many tough and scarred kids. The world is overflowing with kids who are rude, disrespectful, mean, arrogant, insensitive and unloving. We need no more conceit, cruelty or rejection. Enough!

What we need in this world is for children (and adults for that matter) to walk like Jesus. Speak like Jesus. Love like Jesus. Be wiling to suffer the consequences like Jesus. Jesus loved and was despised. He was warm and welcoming, and He was rejected. He gave of Himself and they mocked Him. He offered Himself as a sacrifice and still people refuse to accept His gift of salvation. Our Savior showed us all how we are supposed to live, and yet we are often too afraid of rejection, persecution and disappointment to make ourselves vulnerable to love those He puts in our path without reservation.

I guess that’s what I love most about Jesus. He never hesitated to accept and love the people He encountered. My daughter reminded me today of what that can look like for us. She offered friendship and was rejected. Her beautiful heart felt that pain, and I wanted to take it away. I really did. Yet I know that my daughter, in offering love so freely, is far more like Jesus than I am. What a lesson in love. May we all be more vulnerable and continue loving people, whether or not they accept us, because some will. Some will be moved by our love, warmth and acceptance and will fall in love with Jesus as they see Him in us.

My daughter will experience more pain in her life, but I feel confident that the Lord is going to use her mightily. So I will comfort her, learn from her about offering simple love and pray that the Lord never changes that beautiful part of her heart.

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