Our first Joshua Generation characteristic for the new year, is COURAGEOUS LOVE. Our slogan for the month is “the wounds from a friend are true!!“
Our slogan this month is found in Proverbs 27:6. The wording there is just a little different. It says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend;” This statement is a perfect example of our characteristic of courageous love. It is talking about the personal emotional trauma that comes from being corrected or rebuked. It takes someone with courageous love to risk the loss or anger of a friend in telling them an unpleasant truth. When a true friend corrects or rebukes us (I.e. “wounds” us), we can be confident that it is from loyal, faithful concern about our physical, spiritual or emotional welfare or growth. Consider theses passages which exemplify or require courageous love.
“Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture (chastening) and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Hebrews 12:9 says in part, “We have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us…” Have you seen (I know you have) children who controlled the mother and/or the father with the use of pleading, whining, temper tantrums or general misbehavior. It is as though parents are afraid or too busy to discipline their child persistently and consistently. Many people frown on or even report parents who would dare to follow God’s plan of discipline. I find it interesting that the KJV translators used the word ‘nurture’ where ‘chastisement’ is the literal meaning. I believe they understood the love that was to be behind proper discipline. It takes courageous love to go against the will of society and incur the displeasure of the child in order to save that precious soul for God. Proverbs 23:13:“Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. 14: Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.”
Paul asked the rhetorical question of the Galatians brethren, “Am I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” This is perhaps one of the hardest matters for us all: To tell someone we love that they are in danger of losing their soul; to tell them in terms so clear they cannot misunderstand; and to tell them with a depth of love they cannot understand unless they with that same depth of love faced someone else with such a truth. These people love Paul so much they would have “plucked out” their eyes to help him (Galatians 4:15). Now Paul is telling them they have been removed from the grace of God (1:6), they are foolish and bewitched (3:1), they had turned again to the weak and beggarly elements (4:9), and they are fallen from grace if they go back under the law of Moses (5:4). Paul’s true love made him courageous enough to tell them truth even if they would henceforth see him as an enemy.
Stephen had that same love (to speak the needed truth plainly) for the very ones who stoned him to death in the record of Acts 7. In Galatians 2:11, Paul withstood Peter, an apostle, to the face because he was to be blamed. Friend, I lovingly ask, when is the last time you wanted to tell someone you know or love that they are lost, but you did not? How many of us mourn that lost souls will not listen, but do not have the courageous love to plainly tell them they will be lost if they do not listen. We invite them to services (a good thing) and hope they will pick up the truth in time (a bad thing). Paul told the shrinking Timothy, “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). Think of the courageous love required to “rebuke before all” an elder in sin (1 Timothy 5:19-20. In my lifetime, I have never seen or heard of it being done (of course, that does not mean it has not been done), nor, have I done it. What courage and love for our fellow man and our God we are called upon to have.
Matthew 10:41 is another of my favorite passages exemplifying courageous love. It teaches us to stand with the man who stands with God. God teaches us that there are few who love all the truth. The history of God’s people through the OT shows us that the courageous, righteous man was not usually popular. Our text in Matthew is about the one who befriends the righteous man of God. It is not just about befriending him because we like him, but because he is a righteous man. When no one else may stand with such a one, we should. Even if we will be separated from friends and loved ones who oppose the truth, we should stand with such a man. He should not die or be persecuted alone. In so doing, we shall receive his reward.
One final passage to consider in this article is 1 Corinthians 5:2-5. Here is the command to discipline. Most congregations play dead in regard to this command. Most of us are emotionally tied together in a congregation. It takes a great deal of love to follow God’s plan to purify the church and save souls through withdrawal.
Mike Glenn (e-bulletin 1-1)