I asked the choir to sing “Love Lifted Me” yesterday. We arrived at practice and Pastor Dave was whistling it. I had chosen two much slower songs and thought an upbeat one would be an improvement. The song was a success. The choir sounded great. The congregation enjoyed singing along. (I didn’t sing with the choir because I’m still having pain where that tooth was pulled that doesn’t allow me to keep my mouth open long enough for practice and service, but that’s another story.)
Then the service started. I’d be lying if I said the idea for this blog post hit me then. In all honesty, I wondered why we sang the song. It didn’t seem to go with the service at all. It was a service filled with rebuke without any exhortation. It didn’t feel loving to me. So I didn’t understand how the song fit in, but I do now. If God is love (and He is), than, love must include rebuke and chastisement. God is not one dimensional. He is love, but He is so much more than that.
1 John 4:8
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
Hebrews 12: 5-9
5And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
God, through Paul’s pastoral epistles, asks pastors to take on some of that responsibility.
2 Timothy 4:2
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;
It would be nice to get more “exhortation,” but we would do well to make the most of the rebuke. For a wise man, will take it to heart and make the most of the rebuke.
Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.
Now, sometimes a rebuke is not warranted. Sometimes, we may feel that the person attempting to rebuke us is the one that needs to be rebuked. At moments like that, it may be best to take a step back. Think about what the “rebuker” has said and if it still doesn’t apply. Let it go. If you have tried to rebuke someone and they won’t hear it in the spirit intended, then realize that we aren’t all in the same place spiritually and give them the space to make their own mistakes. If they will not hear us, they may hear God when we get out of His way.
So, love lifts us in more than one way, sometimes it’s with exhortation, but sometimes it’s with rebuke. If we hear the rebuke and allow it to change us, then we will be lifted higher. So, yes, love lifted me. Did love lift you?
Share your thoughts in the comments. I’d love to hear them.
(All verse references are taken from the Authorized Version of the Bible, commonly referred to as the King James Version.)
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