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Proverbs 1:23 – If you had responded to my rebuke, I would have poured out my heart to you and made my thoughts known to you. (NIV)
I have a great friend who always confronts my weaknesses and challenges me to be all that I can be. We meet on a monthly basis, and he listens attentively to what I'm struggling with as a pastor of a growing congregation. He has wisdom and patience, and above all, the gift of discernment, which enables him to confront, challenge, and even rebuke me whenever I feel overwhelmed or try to avoid important issues. He doesn't say the right things to make me feel good; he says the right things to make me a better leader.
I guess that's what God is saying here in this passage. He wants to give us guidance, which may involve confronting our issues and rebuking our weaknesses, so that we can become better people, better followers of Christ. If we were to read the Bible from beginning to end, we would see God doing that with all sorts of people, communities, and individuals. God doesn't rebuke us because He delights in pointing out our mistakes and looks forward to punishing us; God confronts our sinful choices and foolish decisions because He knows that we have a greater potential to do good, to lead well, and to accomplish much more with our faith than we personally realize.
Perhaps we're currently struggling with the consequences of bad decisions or we're avoiding personal issues that need to be confronted. Perhaps we're finding it hard to live faithfully and to wrestle constantly with accomplishing things for the church. Take heart! God understands these things about our lives and can give us the strength to overcome and resolve them, if we are willing to hear His voice, if we are willing to receive His loving rebuke.
Prayer: Lord God, we know that we are accountable to You and that You are fully aware of all that we say and do. When we fall astray, or neglect our faith, or ignore Your will for our lives, challenge and confront us, re-direct and rebuke us, encounter and encourage us. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
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