Links Daily Devotional

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Can You Handle the Truth?

“You stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” (Acts 7:51, NIV)

You know him, I’m sure, as Stephen the martyr. Stoned at the hands of a Jewish mob, this noted disciple has been upheld for centuries as the first to die for faith in Christ.

Our heart should so much desire better action from the other person that we issue them a warning and a call to repentance.The question is, have you ever thought to yourself that he deserved it? I don’t mean this in some sort of glorified religious sense, where Christ warned that we would be persecuted for the faith and even put to death, and Stephen was given the privilege of being the first. I mean it more fundamentally, because when I read the words that he spoke to the crowd in Jerusalem that day (the words you see above), I can understand their reason for being offended. Stephen rebuked them with strong accusations.

Oddly enough, in the midst of all the New Testament emphasis on love, we find as well room for rebuke. It’s like cacti planted in the middle of the green on a simple par-3.

The idea arose from Jesus himself. Where the Lord famously urged his disciples to forgive profusely, he began with these words: “If your brother sins, rebuke him” (Luke 17:3). Jesus left no room for sin, and he didn’t want his disciples to leave such room either.

In his first letter to Timothy, Paul seemed to take the teaching a step further, when the situation called for it: “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear” (1 Timothy 5:20, ESV).

Among the nuanced meanings in the Greek, the idea behind a biblical rebuke is that we will call another to account and show them their fault. I did say we. That is, this is not the work only of the early apostles or the especially pious ones today. When we see sin in another—and here is where love crosses over into the area of rebuke—our heart should so much desire better action from the other person that we issue them a warning and a call to repentance (turning) in the form of a rebuke.

And surely you know where we must conclude today: If we are givers of godly rebukes, we must also receive them in righteousness, as those humble of spirit and truly desirous of serving the Lord.

Jeff Hopper
May 13, 2016
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