I let out a long, deep sigh as I read the words on my computer screen. My friend, Jennifer, wrote words which stung with conviction. Quite simply, she rebuked me for sin in my life.
The thing which really struck me when Jennifer rebuked me, was not the truth of her words, but rather the fact that I was surprised by the rebuke. My surprised reaction caused me to realize how rare rebuke is in our society.
In today's technologically oriented world, we seldom connect with people on a deep enough level to facilitate the necessary ministry of rebuke. We are almost more accustomed to conversing with machines than people.
Because of that, I thought about starting a "Dial-a-Rebuke" ministry. It would be a fully automated system. All you'd have to do before going to bed at night would be dial, 1-800-A Rebuke and then choose the appropriate option. A cheerful, but stern voice would prompt you, "If you've had lustful thoughts today, press one. If you've told a lie, press two." For people who had blown it big time that day, I'd include what would surely be a favorite choice, "If you have broken more than five of the ten commandments today, press three." The person would then be guided through a maze of choices until they finally came to the moment of truth their own "personal" word of rebuke.
The system would be well organized, comprehensive, economical and of course, completely confidential. It would be perfect! Well, almost perfect. It would be missing one very important ingredient: a friend.
Proverbs 27:5,6 (NKJV) says, "Open rebuke is better than love carefully concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend." I received Jennifer's rebuke because she is a friend I can trust.
I've often heard it said that there's no such thing as a "Lone Ranger" Christian. I'd have to agree; for many years I struggled alone in my Christian walk, unwilling to admit my shortcomings to anyone. I desperately desired to live a godly, disciplined life and yet I failed time after time.
A turning point in my ability to succeed in spiritual disciplines and in my personal life in general came about through involvement with an accountability group. That group of believers freely asked me tough questions about how I was doing spiritually. In the beginning transparency was tough. (And at times it still is!) But over time I've realized that all of the risks associated with transparency and accountability are worth it.
Sometimes my experiences with my accountability partners have been painful. There have been times their words of rebuke have been harsh. But even those hard times have had a positive effect on me; they've caused me to look at the sometimes ugly contents of my heart objectively.
Fortunately, my accountability partners do more than just rebuke; they also speak words of loving encouragement. They often come alongside me and lift me up when I'd rather not pray or read the Word. They constantly remind me of God's goodness over the years and are there to pray for me when I'm hurting. Those same friends have been there through my good times and bad times. Those godly friends are honestly the secret to my success in my pursuit of living a disciplined Christian life.
So, if you're out there, striving to live a disciplined Christian life on your own, give it up. Let go of your pride enough to admit that you need your brothers and sisters in Christ. We simply aren't meant to stand alone.
We long to hear words of love and appreciation and your accountability partners should offer you that but Proverbs 27:5,6 reminds us that open rebuke is to be sought after more than carefully concealed love. So never cease to be thankful for and open to the faithful wounds of a friend.
Copyright by Rebecca Livermore, a Christian speaker and writer from Denver, Colorado. Her passion is helping people grow spiritually. To read more of her articles, visit http://www.rebeccalivermore.com , www.helpforchristianwriters.blogspot.com or www.relevantdevotions.blogspot.com .
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my accountability partners do more than just rebuke; they also speak words of loving encouragement That makes it complete, the admonishment coupled with the follow up of loving words of encouragement. I enjoyed reading this and was blessed in reading it. Thomas