Sunday, July 27, 2003

[Wisdom picked up from the Old Testament book of wisdom, Proverbs]

Proverbs 9:8:
"A scoffer who is rebuked will only hate you; the wise, when rebuked, will love you."

This raises the question of whether one should ever bother rebuking a scoffer, a person who belittles the idea of faith in God. Generally, I don't think that people of faith should rebuke the skeptical. The perfect model of this behavior is Jesus, the One Christians believe was God-Come-to-Earth. Jesus never grew angry, never rebuked, unbelieving people. He was always very patient with them. He embodied the truth that the New Testament preacher Paul points to when he says that the kindness of God leads people to repentance, to turning to God.

The only people Jesus ever upbraided were "good churchgoing people" who claimed to follow God but were full of hatred or indifference to God and people.

If we sense that God is "getting on our cases" sometimes, disutrbing us with guilt pangs in our consciences, it's good to remember what the Scripture repeatedly affirms: God only rebukes and disciplines those who are in relationship with Him. Hebrews 12:6 says, “...the Lord disciplines those whom He loves, and chastises every child whom He accepts.”

Sometimes, guilt is God's wake-up call to our hearts and minds, calling us to align parts of our lives where we may be rebelling against God back in line with Him and His will.

Occasionally, the guilt we feel is inappropriate. We may be shouldering more blame than we need to take.

Two things should be remembered:

(1) If you feel guilt, chances are you're spiritually healthier than many people. The only people certain of not being guilty for anything are people without consciences or contact with God.

(2) No matter what may make you feel guilty, you can talk it over with the God we meet in Jesus Christ, turn your life over to Him, be made new, and know that you have forgiveness and new life. Jesus died and rose to give these blessings to the whole guilty world! Second Corinthians 5:17 says:

"So if anyone is in Christ Jesus, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!"

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