Most of us are familiar with the injunction which Jesus calls the greatest commandment of all: to love our neighbour as ourselves. As Paul has added: ‘whoever loves others has fulfilled the law’ (Romans 13:8). But what does genuine love mean, and how is it expressed? Is it possible that we’ve been wrongly influenced by popular culture to see love as something it isn’t?
At our centres we teach quite a lot on God’s love. We understand that in God’s love, we find answers for our questions, healing for our wounds, and direction for our lives. But God’s perfect fatherly love includes (but isn’t limited to) godly discipline (Hebrews 12:5-11). Not only do we teach this on our courses, but also several ‘Seeds of the Kingdom’ have been devoted to this wonderful subject. Today I’m going to look at what ‘tough’ kind of love means in our interpersonal relationships.
Today’s scripture teaches us that an important aspect of loving our neighbour is rebuking them when that’s needed. How contrary to popular culture this is! The world wants to teach that tolerance is life’s highest virtue, and that condemning sin is an awful, unloving vice. But in God’s Kingdom it’s exactly the other way around! Whenever we steer someone away from sin, we bless them. Also, whenever we willingly condone sin, we’re liable to ‘bear sin because of them’.
We know that whenever God exposes something in us, He does so ‘unto life’. He does it lovingly, without condemnation, accusation or judgement of us. He always extends forgiveness. He encourages us to come to Him for help. He gets personally involved in our process of restoration. How good it would be if we could be more like our heavenly Father, and treat our family in Christ in a similar fashion!
If I’m really honest, I’d say I find loving confrontation really hard. Personally, I tend to either quietly condone sin (due to a fear of confrontation), or I sway the other way and harshly condemn or judge those who’re in the wrong. I wonder if anyone else struggles the same way. As I’m pondering today’s scripture, I feel a rising urge to ask our Father to help us love our neighbour as ourselves in the area of godly confrontation. Whenever someone’s pointed out an error in me (it has happened), and they do it in a kind and loving way, this has always resulted in me receiving and coming more into my godly inheritance. Surely this is something we should want for others as well.
It probably wouldn’t help much if we all ventured on a self-appointed mission to rebuke everyone else’s sin at all times. Also, it would probably be more appropriate to ensure we have a good relationship with the person we’re seeking to confront. We might need to ‘earn the right’ first to speak into someone’s life, by unconditionally loving them; in other words, by being a true neighbour. There really are many additional aspects to consider. But, after having done all, may God help us in loving our neighbours, even when this means confronting sinful behaviour.
Prayer: Father in heaven, thank You that Your motivation in confronting sin is Your perfect love. Please help me to receive Your correction (even if it comes through other people), and to extend Your love in the best ways possible, even when this means kindly confronting sinful behaviour in those that I love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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