Tame That Horse

August 20, 2010

Those of us who are raising both girls and boys know that there is a tremendous difference between the two. In fact, you don’t have to parent both to know that the way girls respond to life is very different from the way boys respond. One of the most significant challenges in raising girls is the fact that they are much more emotional than boys.  I found an instructive article about raising girls that was very encouraging. Here’s an excerpt. You can read it in its entirety here.

We tell our girls that their feelings are like horses- beautiful, spirited horses. But they are the riders. We tell them that God gave them this horse when they were born, and they will ride it their whole life. God also set us on a path on the top of a mountain together and told us to follow it. We can see for a long way – there are beautiful flowers, lakes,  trees, and rainbows. (We are little girls after all!) This is how we “walk in the light as He is in the light, and have fellowship with one another.”

When our emotions act up, it is like the horse trying to jump the fence and run down into a yucky place full of spiders to get lost in the dark. A good rider knows what to do when the horse tries to bolt – you pull on the reigns! Turn the horse’s head! Get back on the path!  We also tell them that God told us that if we see one of our little girls with her horse down in the mud puddle spitting at people who walk by, it is our job to haul them up, willing or unwilling, back to the path.The ways that this has helped me as a mother are pretty obvious, but I will share them anyway if you will bear with me.

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:1-2).

To bear the burdens of a brother or sister in the Lord means:

  1. Our brother or sister may become a burden to us.
  2. We must embrace another’s freedom to be themselves.
  3. We must bear the sin of another, which is often the abuse of their freedom.
  4. We must suffer the sins of another without judging.

Finally, to bear another’s burden means we should confront sin with the Word of God, not with our personal disappointment. Ultimately, we must remember that the one who has sinned has done so against God and his holiness. Yes, we may have been hurt in the process, but the most pressing issue is their need for reconciliation with God. Take them to the cross and the cross alone.

There is no eternal profit in shaming or heaping guilt upon their head in your personal disappointment. Sure, this may make you feel better, but this rarely leads to biblical reconciliation and healing. There is very little wisdom in using your personal disappointment as the motivation to confront sin. In fact, as we learn in Proverbs, when words are many, sin is rarely absent (Proverbs 10:19). When we confront others motivated purely by our disappointment, we fail to speak with our brother or sister’s best interest in mind. Word motivated by our emotions that are not guarded or informed by Scripture can often cause deeper wounds than the original offense.

There is one who rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing (Proverbs 12:18).

We restore our brother by bringing him to the cross with the ministry of the Word.

The Ministry of Rebuke

August 19, 2010

Kevin DeYoung has served the church well with his insightful posts about the ministry of rebuke.  Your time won’t be wasted, I promise:

  1. The Ministry of Rebuke (1)
  2. The Ministry of Rebuke (2)
  3. The Ministry of Rebuke (3)

A fourth way that we “bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2) is by suffering the sins of one another without judging. While we are all responsible to God personally for our short-comings and sins, our maturity in Christ is a community project as we strive to live for Christ in solidarity (as one body) in the Gospel. Where Hillary Clinton may have been wrong-headed about child-rearing, in some sense it does “take a village” to bring us to maturity in Christ as members of Jesus’ body.

When a brother or sister’s sin is exposed, we should consider whether or not our laziness in our care for one another may have contributed to their stumbling into darkness. We should examine whether or not we have been faithful to pray for them, whether we have served them well, considering their needs even above our own, and whether we have pursued their spiritual well-being as dearly as our own.

We must also guard against hypocrisy in our judgment of our brother or sister.  Jesus’ words are important in helping us discern our hearts. We must be careful to take the log out of our own eyes before pointing out the speck in the eye of our brother.

However, where we have been faithful in our care for one another, and this brother or sister is in sin despite the best efforts of the community to encourage or warn them, we must still remember that we are to seek restoration with gentleness in our pursuit of them. This implies that we are to forebear with others – even disciples that we aren’t sure are “getting it”. Our hope for them is not in what they are, but what they can be in Christ who is making all things new.

When we bear with one another by allowing those we are in relationship with the freedom to be who they are in Christ, we are admittedly taking a risk. This brings us to another aspect of bearing one another’s burdens: to bear the sin of another, which is often an abuse of their freedom.

This is quite difficult because the abuse of our freedom (rather the inappropriate, broken or fallen expression of the image of God in us) results in broken fellowship with God, and often each other as well.

Notice the inevitability of sin within the community of faith:

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted (Galatians 6:1).

Jesus also speaks of the “when”, not “if”, nature of sin in the community in the Gospel of Luke.

Temptations to sin are sure to come, but woe to the one through whom they come (Luke 17:1)!

When others either fail to meet our expectations, it often creates disappointment expressed by relational distance. We may run to judge their moral failure, blast their hypocrisy, and heap shame upon their already guilty conscience. And we often never say a word about it; and we don’t have to. Our disapproval is expressed by our distance.  This is a way of showing contempt for our brother. When we do this, we are failing to fulfill the law of Christ by bearing our brother or sister’s burden.

To cherish no contempt for the sinner, but rather to prize the privilege of bearing him means not to have give him up as lost, to be able to accept him, preserve fellowship with him through forgiveness (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together).

There is great risk here because our fellow Christ-follower may well stumble into sin once again. This should grieve us, and the grief should compel us to seek to restore our brother or sister in gentleness. Our desire should be to see them reconciled first to God, and then to his or her fellow man, because reconciliation is at the heart of Christ’s gospel.

Who have you given up on because they have sinned? Who has disappointed you, and rather than seeking to restore them, you have given them up as lost? We do not have the right to cast aside those whom Christ has claimed for Himself.