How hard it is to receive or give a rebuke.
Today in our Gathering we were discussing Paul’s instructions to Titus, who had been sent to Crete to bring correction and lay a foundation of Christ in the lives of the believers. As part of his instructions Titus is instructed to “encourage and rebuke with all authority” (Titus 2:15). Encourage and rebuke. Fifty fifty! It seems that although “the grace of God … has appeared …teaching us to say NO! to ungodliness …” (Titus 2:11), our old ways do not always simply lie down and die without a rebuke. Encouragement is not enough.
Encouragement I’m good at, both giving and receiving. But not rebuke. And neither are many to whom I’ve had to bring a rebuke. Despite the Bible telling us that “faithful are the wounds of a friend”, we take offence and more often than not skulk off to lick our wounds in self-righteous indignation and denial.
Which brings me to the purpose of this blog, a dream that my son-in-law Dennis had. Dennis is quite a dreamer. Not the daytime ones (although he does go fishing alot). No. Early in his walk Dennis realised that God often speaks in dreams and will give the wisdom and skill to interpret our dreams if we seek him. Many a time have we been blessed or warned by the Lord through this very Biblical means of grace. And the following dream is an example.
The dream was of a medieval battle and in the dream Dennis and I are engaged in a sword fight in which I slash his throat. Immediately I show him the blade of my sword on which are written the words, “If the blood is red you will live; if the blood is black you will die!” Dennis grasps his throat – and the blood is red, at which point he then joins me in the battle.
I then turn to another brother in the church and engage him in battle with the same result. I slash his throat, show him the blade of my sword, which again reads, “If the blood is red you will live; if the blood is black you will die!” He also clutches his throat but finds that the blood is black! However, he then steps back and in doing so comes into the rays of the sun coming through the mist which shows the blood to be red! Hallelujah, he lives!
The interpretation? Well it is simply this. All fathers, leaders, mentors wound. Sometimes, like the wound of a surgeon dealing with a cancer, the wound is good and life-giving, though painful. Sometimes however the wound is simply because the father/leader is human. Often though, it is without malice or intent. In whatever way the wound comes though, it is the light that we put on it that determines whether it will kill or bring life. Whether it will damage us (and the relationship) or result in wholeness and freedom. And bring us on board as part of a team.
The choice is ours. We can reject the rebuke and remain imature, selfwilled and stunted, battling alone in the shadows and never coming into the fulness of God’s intentions. Or we can value rebuke as we value encouragement, bringing even misguided rebuke into the light of the Holy Spirit and growing in the process.
Lord, help us to value the wounds of a friend.