Philippians 1:12-14 ESV
“I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”
Well, I finished writing the last devotion for today a little after 2:00 p.m., or what I thought was the last devotion for today, and then I took a short nap before supper. And then I spent some time relaxing scanning through Facebook posts. Usually on Wednesday evenings our daughter teaches our oldest son’s oldest daughter to play piano here at our apartment, for we are somewhat centrally located between their two houses. But after I woke from my nap I learned they are not coming tonight. So I now had some free time.
So while I was relaxing and I was scanning through Facebook posts I saw this one that jumped out at me, not from a Christian perspective, but true, nonetheless. The guy said he would rather tell you the truth and have you think badly of him than to tell you something he knows is a lie but for you to like him. He said people tell each other lies and not the truth because they want people to like them, which is selfish, not selfless. And they couch it with, “I just don’t want to hurt your feelings,” but he said it is just because they don’t have the courage to tell people the truth. And it is selfish.
And then, as I continued to scan down through my Facebook feed I saw a post by Pure Life Ministries, which is a ministry dedicated to helping men caught in slavery (addiction) to sexual sin to get free and to live pure lives for Jesus Christ. Anyway, the speaker said, “The God who is convicting actually has come to rescue. Take that in. The God who is convicting has actually come to rescue, not to destroy. It is love that is speaking harshly at times. He has come to rescue. Again, as we learn to love the Lord and trust him, we will welcome the times he comes to us and speaks to us firmly.”
So, then I went to Vimeo and it let me know that someone I was following had posted a new video, but I think I am only following Shane Idleman, a pastor of a church somewhere in California (USA). Actually I had not listened to him probably in several years, but I had the time, so I thought I would check out his most recent sermon. Well, the video wasn’t working right. It kept stopping and then spinning and if I got it going again, it did the same thing, so I decided to go to the next video which was Shane speaking as a guest on a Christian talk show, I think. But this was all by God’s design.
And the subject was “Boldness and Brokenness.” Now, it would take too long for me to listen to the whole thing again, but the gist of it is that we need to speak the truth in love to people. So this was very much in line with what the two previous guys said. Shane said, though, that boldness must be coupled with brokenness. For, he said, we can have people on one side who are speaking out against issues – and he was talking about political issues having to do with morality – and how some people can be so ugly and hateful that they do not lead anyone to faith in Jesus.
[Now this is not an exact quote. But you can listen to it and you can get the exact words he said.]
But then he went on to talk about how so many people today, including so many pastors are watering down the truth because they don’t want to offend anyone or make people feel bad or uncomfortable, and so they don’t take a stand on moral issues or on the gospel. And that is so true. The modern church of today, which is in the majority here in America, is not telling the people the truth they need to hear but they are soft pedaling the gospel and they are not speaking out against the evils of our society which exist within the church, but they are cowards who are hiding behind this notion that they don’t want to offend anyone or make anyone feel bad.
And so he said we need to be somewhere in between those who are obnoxious and who are mean and cruel in their remarks and those who soft pedal the truth or who say nothing because they don’t want to offend anyone or they don’t want people to not like them or whatever (again, not exact quotes here, but the general idea of what he said). And this is where he said that we need to be bold, and we need to speak the truth, and stand up for what is right, but that we need to do it with brokenness and humility.
And then he was asked about how he got broken, and so he shared some of his own testimony, and that led me to thinking about how God broke me so that he could use me to speak out his messages in public. He had me obey him to the point to where, at one point, it felt as though everyone I knew had turned against me and I had no one but him to turn to.
I honestly was at a point in my life where I either had to reject God in order to be approved by other humans, or I had to be willing to be rejected and even hated by all other humans in order to follow God. And that has been the story of my life ever since then.
But God has used those painful experiences in my life to break me and to humble me so that he could use me in the way that he is presently using me. For I had to be willing to speak the truth in love to all people who he said to speak to, even if every person on this earth turned against me. And many have. The majority that I know have, in one way or another. But the Lord has just used that all the more to convince me of the critical nature of getting out the truth to the people so that many people will be saved.
And the message that he is having me give out is not one usually that makes people feel all warm and cozy. It is one that tells people that they must repent (turn away from their sins) and turn to Jesus to follow him in obedience to his commands (New Covenant), and that they must walk in holiness and righteousness, and continue in that walk of faith until the end. For if they do not, but they continue in deliberate and habitual sin and not in holiness, and not in obedience to the Lord, they will not inherit eternal life with God. And that just isn’t a message that most people will receive.
[Matt 7:21-23; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; Rom 12:1-2; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 4:17-24; Eph 5:3-6; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:26-27; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
And so, if you are someone who is speaking the truth in love to people, not in your own flesh but in the power of God’s Spirit, and in spiritual brokenness, because you love God, and because you love all people, and because you are not being selfish, but because you are willing to be hated in order to see others rescued from their slavery to sin, then be prepared to be hated and mistreated and rejected like Jesus was, because you are being like Jesus in heart, mind, and character. But all to the glory of God! Amen!
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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Balancing Boldness with Brokenness Idleman Unplugged