Proverbs 27:11-20 Be wise, my son, and make my heart glad, That I may reply to him who reproaches me. A prudent man sees evil and hides himself, The naive proceed and pay the penalty. Take his garment when he becomes surety for a stranger; And for an adulterous woman hold him in pledge. He who blesses his friend with a loud voice early in the morning, It will be reckoned a curse to him. A constant dripping on a day of steady rain And a contentious woman are alike; He who would restrain her restrains the wind, And grasps oil with his right hand. Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another. He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit, And he who cares for his master will be honored. As in water face reflects face, So the heart of man reflects man. Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied, Nor are the eyes of man ever satisfied.
A few months ago my coworkers and I found ourselves sitting in the breakroom on the receiving end of a verbal tongue lashing from our newly hired shop manager. Now, on the spectrum of rebukes I have received in my life, this was mild. It was lighthearted, gentle, and well deserved. As a shop we were slacking in our responsibilities and the standards he had set for us, so we were pointed back to the standard. One person had the audacity to speak up and take issue with this correction and a previous rebuke the manager had given this person in his office. The feather ruffled, now former employee, said they felt the manager was being “mean”. This type of response to correction, a prideful indignation, an open mouthed expression of incredulity, is where we are in American culture. Keep your scarf and gloves handy, because we live in a perpetual state of winter with all the snowflakes that come with it. Correction of any kind, especially that which comes from the Word of God, is met with responses like “Judge not lest you be judged”, “God knows my heart”, and “only God can judge me”. The desire to live autonomous, apart from any overarching authority governing our lives, will make the “coexist” preaching, secular humanist, and the cultural, fake christian sound exactly the same: like whiny children who are accustomed to getting their way and never being told no. How well do you accept correction and reproof? Do you accept correction as a humble servant of Christ, or as one who has “arrived”? A proper understanding of the purpose of godly correction may pave the way for us receiving it more humbly. Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. For one piece of iron to sharpen another, logically, one of the two must be made up of iron that is harder than the other. This is what will allow for sharpening to take place. Hebrews 4:12 says
“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” God's word is the harder, sharper iron. It is the Word of God, not our opinions, our slick rhetoric, or our best impressions of our favorite preachers that will sharpen our brothers and sisters in Christ. Opening up the Martin Luther insult generator online to look for phrases meant to correct and rebuke, while relatively satisfying and entertaining , will not sharpen. I have noticed that my words and opinions tend to make the hearers dull, and calloused towards correction, but the Word of God ALWAYS pierces. Let us be humble, welcoming the correction of brothers and sisters from God's Word, knowing that this correction is from the hand of our loving Heavenly Father Himself, who disciplines the son whom He loves. Let us also remember that our attempts to sharpen others will only be effective if it is the Word of God being used. The world is full of opinion givers, may we as Christians stand firm on a solid foundation, and point unbelievers towards Christ through His Word, the sword, the One with eyes like a flame of fire, who melted the hearts of a bunch of former snowflakes like you and I and brought us to repentance. Children, when corrected by your parents, or other adults who may have some level of authority to correct you…..do not grumble and dispute. Accept the correction knowing that you are loved, blessed, and being shown God's grace through that correction. As we are corrected by other brothers and sisters in Christ, let us give thanks that God has seen fit to discipline us from His Word. When our Pastor preaches from God’s Word, and you experience the sting of godly sorrow, remember that pastors and teachers are gifts to the Church meant to build up and equip the body of Christ for the battles we face. Let us not harden our hearts as in the rebellion, but cry out to God for hearts of flesh that are teachable. If you are able, let us kneel at this time, and confess how we have fallen short of God’s glory.
Most Gracious, Merciful, Heavenly Father, we cry out to You at this time, asking for clean hearts, and steadfast spirits. Father, we are often stiff-necked and rebellious, desiring our ways over Yours. In our weakness, we elevate our wisdom above Yours, trusting in our fallible understanding of things, rather than in Your infinite wisdom and knowledge. We have attitudes built upon a foundation of pride and arrogance, believing that we have arrived at a complete understanding of the truth and Your will, needing no further guidance. Father, please be merciful towards us, and help us see our frailty, weakness, and utter need for Your discipline and correction. Help us to remember that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Your Son Jesus. Please forgive us for being unteachable at times, and for failing to love our brothers and sisters by correcting them from God’s Word. It’s in Jesus name we pray, amen.
Listen now to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to all that believe:
Luke 1:50-53 And His mercy is upon generation after generation Toward those who fear Him. “He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble. “He has filled the hungry with good things; And sent away the rich empty-handed.”
To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lift up your hearts!
(From the 12/9/18 liturgy of Sovereign King Church. Written by Aaron Sabie.)