Exhort One Another

I recently encountered this important thought in my morning devotional reading and Bible study:

He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself shame: and he that rebuketh a wicked man getteth himself a blot. reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee (Proverbs 9:7-8).

The book of Proverbs shares similar thoughts elsewhere (like Proverbs 10:8 and 15:12), and so the repetition indicates that this is an important thought to grasp. And it also reminds me of the New Testament thought in Hebrews 10:24-25, which says:

Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

In Hebrews 10:24-25, I notice my responsibility to provoke and to exhort my fellow Christian brothers and sisters, especially when we gather together for corporate worship and fellowship as a church. Neither words, provoke or exhort, are as strong as the words reprove and rebuke in Proverbs 9:7-8. But there is a parallel.

Christian fellowship and conversation should include more than everyday conversation about the weather, news headlines, restaurant haunts and sports scores. While these topics will appropriately occur, we should also anticipate conversation that challenges and encourages your spiritual life, and that speaks to your Christian health and conduct.

When you gather with your church for worship and fellowship, do you expect this? Do you look forward to this? Do you receive this well, or do you despise it?

Learn to value conversations at church when a brother or sister in Christ challenges your Christian walk and conduct.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful (Proverbs 27:6).

And learn that true friends tell you the truth, even when it is uncomfortable (for you and them).

Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth (Galatians 4:16)?

Be wise and not foolish. Thank the Lord for correction, rebuke and words that challenge your spiritual life, words that come from your pastor(s) and fellow brothers and sisters at church. Don’t despise it. Don’t call it ‘judging’ and easily dismiss it. Take it to heart. Learn from it and grow, and you will be the better for it.

Furthermore, when you join together with your church, be a friend who is willing to share such words yourself to friends in spiritual need. And do so, having considered your own spiritual condition beforehand. Be sure to avoid the Christian Vision Problem!

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