Series: Proverbs II
Who Am I To Judge?
August 06, 2017 | Randy Smith
Who Am I Judge?Proverbs 27:5-6
Sunday, August 6, 2017
Pastor Randy Smith
After a teary church goodbye in the morning, I received this letter from Ray and Charlene Gauvin last Sunday night.
July 30, 2017
Today was our last day at Grace Bible Church as we are moving to Delaware to be closer to our daughter and her family. The most difficult part of leaving was knowing that we would be leaving Grace and the brothers and sisters that we have grown to love during our 9 months here.
My bride and I have traveled the country and the world and the Lord has always lead us to a church that would help us grow and love, but Grace Bible Church with its teachings, music ministry and its saints have provided more for us in spiritual growth and friendship than we could have ever thought possible or imagined.
"Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place" and its people. We are heartbroken that we must leave and we have never felt this way before. You, the congregation, have made such an impact in our lives. From our first Sunday, last October to this our last. Working at Grace Pantry was one of the most rewarding ministries that we have ever served in and we received so much more from that ministry than what we ever gave. The most Christ loving crew that we have ever had the privilege to work and be with.
Brothers and sisters we want you to know that you are truly blessed by God to have such a loving church and grace filled leaders. We have never felt so at home in a church and so close to so many people within the church. For us it was you the congregation and you the people that made the greatest difference in our lives. Hold on to what you have I believe it is a rare commodity today.
You are all loved and we will surely miss each and every one of you. We will keep in touch and visit on occasion.
God Bless you all.
Ray & Charlene Gauvin
As many of you know, I have a little side-ministry called "Grace Quotes." Presently it's the largest categorized collection of Christian quotations on the Internet (gracequotes.org). Additionally, I also send out a free daily quote to anyone who signs-up on the home page.
I receive very little positive feedback. Most of it is negative, some outright venomous. Can you guess what subject provokes the most hostility? It's when I post a quote that esteems the greatness and necessity of the local church. Surprised? Why is that?
There is no doubt that much of bitterness stems from the fact that the "church" has let people down. Many churches are unorganized and meaningless. Some are corrupt and partial. We have all heard the stories of how people are turned off to the church because of the way they were unfairly and sinfully treated.
Yet we have to also agree that in some cases it is the individual's fault. Many critiques on the church come from people who do not know what to look for in a good church. And some of the critiques come from people that simply have no desire for accountability. They want to come and go as they please, be answerable to no one and live an unchecked lifestyle.
A biblical church corporately pursues godly living, knowing that we need each other to hold fast to the Word of God. We encourage each other. We don't judge one another. And we do reprove one another with the Word of God in a desire to hold each other accountable to the Word of God.
That's where I desire to go with the limited time we have this morning. First, I'd like to show you some verses from Proverbs. Second, I'd like to provide reasons why we need to reprove each other when necessary. And third I'd like to provide practical steps both in giving and receiving reproof.
1. Biblical Evidence
Before we examine the rationale and the procedure for reproof, we must decide whether or not reproving others is advocated in the Bible. We live in an isolated world where we are told to stay out of each other's business. We live in a church where many advocate overlooking sin in the name of love. But God's Word is our standard. It's the final standard of authority. What do the Scriptures say about confronting others on their sin? I will allow you to judge for yourself as I'll stay solely in the book of Proverbs.
- Proverbs 9:7-8, "He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself, and he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself. Do not reprove a scoffer, lest he hate you, Reprove a wise man, and he will love you."
- Proverbs 10:17, "He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, but he who forsakes reproof goes astray."
- Proverbs 15:12, "Ascoffer does not love one who reproves him. He will not go to the wise."
- Proverbs 15:31-32, "He whose ear listens to the life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise. He who neglects discipline despises himself, but he who listens to reproof acquires understanding."
- Proverbs 25:12, "Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise reprover to a listening ear."
- Proverbs 27:5-6, "Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy."
- Proverbs 28:23, "He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with the tongue."
Proverbs makes it clear that reproof is a biblical principle that will be resisted by the scoffer and fool, but greatly appreciated by those with wisdom.
2. Biblical Rationale
Let me now give you six reasons why reproof is necessary for a good church:
First, we are biblically commanded to reprove others. The Bible says we are to do it. Need I say more? A healthy church seeks to passionately follow God's commandments. Remember Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (Jn. 14:15). Reproof is a biblical commandment. Take Galatians 6:1 for example: "Brothers, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness." Yes, it is never easy to confront another person. Yes, it is never easy to receive confrontation. However, it is a biblical command, and as God's children we are called to be obedient to His commands.
Second, reproof demonstrates our love for others. This is possibly the biggest misunderstanding of reproof. If we watch the news, we are led to believe the biggest dangers we face are global warming, low self-esteem and gender required bathrooms. Sin is actually the greatest danger. It always brings displeasure from God, a guilty conscience and consequences. How can anyone sit back and allow another brother or sister in Christ destroy their lives and do nothing? Where is the love?
For example, let's say a dad this morning is going to attempt to drive his family home from church blindfolded. Would any of us just sit back and say, "We need to pray for the _____ family." Would we reason that we should mind our own business, not judge him, respect his desire to be "free in Christ"? Of course not! We say, "Don't do it!" Why? Because we are legalistic? No, because we are loving!
Think of it like this. In your lifetime, who without a doubt has and will rebuke you the most? Your answer is the person who loves you the most - your spouse!
Third, reproof is giving other Christians what they should desire.
Yesterday I watched the world championship for the 100-meter dash. Usain Bolt, the greatest sprinter that ever lived, lost his final race. The difference separating first and third place was .03 seconds! If you were a track star and I told you that I could shave a half second off your time, wouldn't you be eager to listen?
Beloved, what is your greatest goal? Let me put it another way, what is God's greatest goal for you? Because God's greatest goal for you should also be your greatest goal for yourself, right? God's greatest goal for you is to see you conformed into the image of His Son (2 Cor. 3:18; Rom. 8:29). Therefore, is it not true that we should desire whatever it takes to make us like Christ? Listen, reproof is the Spirit's greatest tool to point out sin and drive us to godliness. Is it any wonder why Solomon can say in Proverbs 12:1 that "he who hates reproof is stupid?"
Fourth, biblical reproof, as recently hinted, allows us to access our spiritual maturity. If we hate and reject reproof, Proverbs says that we are either a scoffer, wicked person or a fool. We demonstrate a proud heart, resistant to Godward change and addicted to self-love. Charles Bridges said, "To forsake the reproof; to be dead to the voice that would save us from ruin - is a most fearful error - the proof of a foolish and unhumbled heart." But, if we love and accept reproof, the Proverbs say we are "a wise man on the path of life" (Pr. 10:17).
A mark of true godliness is to reach the point when we can have someone point out our faults and then thank them for undertaking the considerate and loving task. There can be no doubt, the way that we receive rebuke is one of the greatest tests of our character, the greatest display of our humility.
Fifth, reproof restores strained relationships. God wants His children to live at peace with each other. He wants our relationships unified, practically demonstrating the reconciliation that we all share in Christ. But, sin drives a wedge between relationships in the Christian community and causes division.
So what do we do when someone sins against us and divides our relationship? Here's what often happens in the church. We refuse to confront that brother or sister on his or her sin. However, we have no problem judging him or her silently in our heart. We have no problem gossiping and slandering him or her behind their back. We have no problem remaining bitter at him or her and holding a grudge. And what we fail to realize by this behavior is that that person's one sin against us (possibly even unaware to his or her attention), just became 10,000 sins against them!
Listen, when someone sins against you, don't bottle it up inside - that's a wonderful remedy for bitterness. Don't avoid the person - that's a divided church. Don't change the subject - that's manipulation and deception. Don't tell the elders - that just spreads the awareness of a person's sin to more people. Rather, go to the person in love, speak about the situation, confront them with the Word, restore the relationship and release your burden!
Sixth, biblical reproof protects the purity of the church. Galatians 5:9 says, "A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough." 1 Cor. 12:26 says, "If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it." We don't have individual relationships with Jesus Christ. We have a corporate relationship as members of His body. Unchecked sin has a tremendous ability to spread like wildfire throughout a church. Therefore when sin is exposed, we are to nip it in the bud and protect the purity, testimony and example of the church.
3. Biblical Procedure
Biblical Steps for Giving Reproof
- Preliminary - Realize that you are not on the sin patrol! It is your responsibility to look for the good in others and seek ways to edify your brothers and sisters in Christ (1 Thes. 5:11). Confronting others should only occur when the sin is brought to your personal attention (1 Cor. 5:1-5), not news that you received from another. Also, be sure that it is a biblical sin and not just an issue of preference!
- Pray ...
a. For the offender ...
i. That God would give him or her awareness of the sin (Psm. 119:18).
ii. That God soften his or her heart to the truth in your rebuke (Psm. 51:17).
b. For yourself ...
i. That God will use you as a mouthpiece for His glory (Rom. 12:1) and the other's good (Heb. 10:24). That He will rightly prepare your heart (Psm. 139:23).
1. Have you sinned against the offender (and God) regarding this matter by demonstrating ...
a. Gossip (2 Cor. 12:20)?
b. Bitterness (Heb. 12:15)?
c. Judgmentalism (Mt. 7:1-2)?
d. Lack of forgiveness (Eph. 4:32)?
2. Is your spirit right with God prior to the confrontation by demonstrating ...
a. Proper motives (1 Cor. 4:3-5)?
b. Self-examination (Mt. 7:5)?
c. Humility (Gal. 6:1, 3)?
d. Gentleness (Gal. 6:1)?
- Confront him or her with the Word (Heb. 4:12).
a. Initially go in private (Mt. 18:15).
b. Take the offender to specific Bible passages that directly address the situation (2 Ti. 3:16-17).
c. Explain/reason/dialogue where necessary (Pr. 25:15).
d. Point him or her to Christ for forgiveness and repair (1 Jn. 1:8-9).
e. Restore the relationship if necessary (Mt. 5:24).
f. Pray together (Jas. 5:16).
- Offer assistance - Bear his or her burdens (Gal. 6:2).
a. Prayer (1 Sa. 12:23).
b. Accountability (Pr. 27:17).
c. Encouragement (1 Thes. 5:11).
d. Counseling (Pr. 27:9).
e. Tangible help (1 Jn. 3:18).
It may be hard to give reproof; often it's harder to receive reproof. Let's now look at the biblical steps for receiving reproof.
Biblical Steps for Receiving Reproof
- Preliminary - Make it your passion to strive for godliness (1 Tim. 4:8)! Seek conformity to Christ as your primary goal (Rom. 8:29)! Be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18)! Therefore when reproof comes, you will welcome it in gratitude with a humble spirit and teachable heart, eager to implement Spirit-driven biblical change for the glory of God.
During the time together ...
a. Pray before sharing the concern (Phil. 4:6).
b. Listen carefully to the rebuke (Pr. 18:13).
c. Ask questions to clarify the matter (1 Cor. 14:33).
d. Thank the person for his or her concern (Eph. 1:15-16).
Be careful not to ...
a. Justify your sin (Lk. 16:15).
b. Blame others (1 Sa. 25:24), including the person coming to you (Gen. 3:12).
c. Judge the individual's motives (Jas. 4:12).
After the time together ...
a. Examine your life in the Spirit with the truth in God's Word (Psm. 26:2).
b. Take necessary actions for reparation.
i. Confess any revealed sin to God (Psm. 32:5).
ii. Seek forgiveness from those you may have injured (Gen. 50:17).
iii. Develop a plan for repentance (Ac. 26:20).
We'll that sums it up. This is no doubt a controversial subject and no doubt a difficult one to give and receive. Nevertheless, it is a clear mandate in Scripture that is necessary for a healthy church and the promotion of godliness. However, like anything in the Bible, this principle must be followed correctly if we are to help and not hurt others with our biblical reproof. When it's done right, it's essential for a healthy church.