13 In the lips of him that hath understanding wisdom is found: but a rod is for the back of him that is void of understanding.
14 Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.
When I read these verses, I’m thankful that we serve a patient God. How often have our lips revealed our foolishness and wickedness? How often have our lips spoken destructive things?
As Jesus teaches, “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” My words often reveal things within myself that I’d rather not deal with, and sometimes that is a rod on my back in itself. Facing our sinfulness can be difficult. We feel ashamed. Sometimes we question our relationship with Jesus. Sometimes we fear that the chastisement of God will come for what we have spoken and what was revealed by our words.
I know that most of you who read this have a Christian blog. We write many words, and the name of Jesus is associated with the words we write. That can be a fearful thing. It should be.
The scriptures teach that all our Christian works will be tried and evaluated to see which sort it is. Though our salvation is wrought in the blood of the Son of God, we must answer for what we did with what we received, and there seems to be a level of unfaithfulness that warrants severe consequences. Especially for those in ministry. It can be easy to look at the faults of other ministries, but what about our own? What do the words we speak create?
Do our words bring things that will live or die?
Every Christian life is a sort of ministry. We should be brining knowledge of the Lord to those around us, according to the measure of faith and grace we have received, the stage of growth we are in, and as is fitting for our unique circumstances.
What kind of results do our actions and words bring to those around us? Do we bring living things or dead things?
Living things will lead people to the things of Jesus: love of God, love of our brethren in Christ, and love of our neighbor of all sorts—especially those who do not love us.
In order to love as we should, we need patience and peace so that we can bear the sins of others without sinning ourselves, wisdom to apply the teachings of Jesus effectively, a love of mercy and forgiveness, and no small dash of humility. So, it’s always good to seek these things. It’s always good to do our best to remain inward-looking to a degree, searching our own hearts for deficiencies that we can bring to the Lord so that we might be better ministers of Him.
I am thankful that Jesus is patient with us. Though difficult, I am also thankful that God chastens those He loves.
The scriptures tell us that if we endure chastening of the Lord, we should be glad because He treats us as sons. He cares. He cares enough to show us where we have gone wrong. He cares enough to show us our dead works so that we can repent and bring more life—more of Himself—to our hearts first and then to those around us.
If we seek Jesus, we will find knowledge. We will find a change of heart—and though sometimes this change of heart means that we endure a painful and trying wrestling against sin—we can have faith in Him. The wicked do not wrestle with their sin. They do not regret brining death to the world. They do not fear God. They do not find comfort in His chastisement. They do not turn to Jesus when they have gone astray.
Be comforted, and do not give a foothold to the accuser of our souls.
There are many things that can come against us to accuse us, both on an individual level and as a collective. There is a difference between chastisement and accusation. One brings repentance and life, and the other brings unproductive fear and unproductive sorrow, hardness of heart, and a turning away from Jesus and towards condemnation. We want to be those who encourage repentance and life, not condemnation and death—with faith, knowing that all who truly belong to the Lord will be saved. Many loose “what they seemed to have,” but we should never assume that is us or cause others to feel that way.
We are here. We care. We are striving for Jesus in all things.
Though we might be “beaten with few stripes” or “beaten with many stripes” depending on what we have done, we should always keep going and trust in Jesus. Trust in Him endures all things. Trust in Him might be the only lifeline we have left at times. Never let go, and trust that though you might fear letting go, He will not let you. Rely on His strength to keep your faith, not your own. Our own strength denies Him, but His strength is sure.
If we are very concerned about the wicked and infiltrators among us in the faith—which can be very easy to get hung up on—know that the Lord will avenge, and it is by His grace alone that we are able to escape.
Seek to be thankful for His grace and mercy. Never be glad over the destruction of others lest God turn his chastisement onto you instead, but instead pray that they will be shown a better way. God is patient with the wicked every day, including us. Even so, our God will not allow those He loves to be beaten down forever. There is a Kingdom in sight, and sometimes the more we suffer, the closer that Kingdom becomes—both in heart and in the new age of this world to come.