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Godly Rebuke Is Loving

1 Timothy 1:5-7
The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm. (NIV)

Paul had just told Timothy to command false teachers to stop polluting the church with their ideas. In Ephesus, it seems that every public forum encouraged different ideas to be taught and explored. But that must not be true of the church. Church leadership is not primarily about creating a loving community, but creating a community in which God’s truth is loved and honoured; and where error is hated and rebuked (2 Timothy 4:1-5) . There cannot be any true faith in Jesus without believing the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42). Having started believing the truth we must not wander off and believe half lies or fantasies.

False teachers who are ‘successful’ in dragging people away from the simple truth of Scripture always appear sincere, earnest and committed to what they teach. But they are wrong; their teaching leads others astray and they do not even understand the spiritual significance of the lies they are spreading. They all want to be ‘big people’, noted for their wisdom and passionate zeal. Satan’s ancient temptation, “… your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5) has seduced them into a proud power-lust over undiscerning people.

False teaching continues to be a major problem. Yet gentle-hearted church leaders often feel that they cannot do anything about it for fear of upsetting people. They may have little appetite for confrontation. It is still true that the most loving thing to do when people are caught up in error, is to rebuke what is false and teach what is true. As parents we know that if we do not do that in the family, with our children, then they may fall into all kinds of wrong and painful lifestyles and relationships. Love that never challenges what is wrong is not love at all: it is a lifeless sentiment without any power to draw people into the truth of Jesus. So, pray for church leaders, Christian business leaders, and family leaders - and for all who know the truth and have the authority to lead others – that they may be bold in the truth.

Dear Lord God. Thank You for giving us clear accounts of the life of Jesus Christ, and the clear doctrinal teaching expounded by Christ’s apostles. I ask Your forgiveness for the times when I have known the truth and not done it, or even encouraged others to disobey You. I confess my weakness in not challenging the wrong ideas or behaviour among those who seek precedence in the church, and ask that You will enable me to be more discerning - more able to highlight the difference between truth and error so that I can help those for whom I have spiritual responsibility. May church leaders have that same boldness. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams