As a writer, I pay attention. I spend much of my time looking at the world, how people behave, what they are struggling with, and how I fit into it all from a Christian perspective. Everything gets filtered through my faith and the truth I believe in God’s word.
Do you know what I have noticed?
It’s easier to say easy things that tickle the ears.
It’s much harder to say things that admonish, rebuke, and instruct us toward spiritual growth.
Everyone desires to be lifted up without experiencing the pain of holding any of it up. We seek momentary highs over eternal rewards.
There is no lack of slogans in pretty memes designed to encourage us through feelings of “enoughness”, “empowerment”, and “evolution”.
It is not always easy to weed out the worldly message from the truth of Scripture when the enemy disguises lies wrapped in partial goodness.
Subtlety distorts the gospel message. It slowly seeps down to our roots and takes hold.
It’s easier to motivate with positive affirmations that people long to hear, but God doesn’t always ask me to write those things.
As I read through Scripture, He calls me to share the whole counsel of God. Sometimes the things we want to hear aren’t in line with what God wants us to hear, learn from, and grow towards.
Truth often interferes with our personal agendas.
It soothes us to hear that we are beautiful, enough, empowered, perfect as we are, etc. than to hold these truths in proper perspective in Christ.
God calls us masterpieces that are still being molded into His image. (2 Timothy 2:21, Ephesians 2:10)
He says that we are new creations becoming new. (2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 8)
He says that we are empowered through the Holy Spirit working in us. On our own, we are weaker than we even imagine. (I Cor. 12:11, Galatians 5)
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:16 ESV
What does it mean to admonish one another?
ADMON’ISH, v.t. L. admoneo, ad and moneo, to teach, warn, admonish. (Definitions from Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828.)
1. To warn or notify of a fault; to reprove with mildness.
Count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. 2Thess. 3.
2. To counsel against wrong practices; to caution or advise.
Admonish one another in psalms and hymns. Col. 3.
3. To instruct or direct.
Moses was admonished of God, when he was about to make the tabernacle. Heb. 8.
4. In ecclesiastical affairs, to reprove a member of the church for a fault, either publicly or privately; the first step of church discipline. It is followed by of, or against; as, to admonish of a fault committed, or against committing a fault. It has a like use in colleges.
When we look over these definitions, we may not feel encouraged. But I believe that is because our perspectives are skewed on God’s purpose for our lives. His goal is to transform us into the likeness of His son, Jesus. It is to bring glory and honor to Him in how we conduct our lives. And it is to share the gospel truth with those in our lives, compelling them to accept the grace He extends to us all.
How can we inspire and motivate one another to these goals and help each other do the hard work of yielding our lives to God?
How do we learn to:
Remain faithful through the hard
Go to battle over our thoughts and take them captive
Deny our flesh to walk in the Spirit. (Upon believing and calling on Jesus to save us, we are gifted with the Holy Spirit. But that doesn’t mean we are always walking in the Spirit – being controlled and guided by Him. Galatians 5:25 “If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”)
Produce good works and develop the character of God
Run the race and fight the good fight
Love the unlovable
Be patient 70 times 7
Wrestle through doubt toward greater trust
Remember His faithufulness
All these things take effort. But the effort comes from the strength and power of God as we rest in Him and seek Him simultaneously.
We live in tandem between what is and what is yet to come. We know in part but can grow in understanding. God never said we wouldn’t have to work or make every effort to follow, trust, and live in faith. No, the effectiveness with which we live depends on our commitment to work.
2 Peter 1:8 “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
If we only want to hear the feel good truths of Scripture, we will not be fruitful and effective. Because if we do not see our weakness and lack, growth can’t happen. So, being admonished is a gift. It opens our eyes to see where we need to let go and seek God. It guides us to focus on building routines that form godly character in our lives. Those things in turn bless others and encourage them to make every effort as well.
We can rest in this place of working knowing that all of the things God says about us are true.
We are created in His image. He loves us and made a plan from the beginning of time to rescue and redeem us all.
We can come to Him as we are, but are asked to go away changed from within. You don’t need to become more to come to Christ, but we do need to renew our minds and let the Holy Spirit produce greater fruits in our lives.
When we say we are enough as a parent, we deny the reality that we have areas for growth. We deny our great need for Him in every moment of our days with those entrusted to us. There is a vast difference in believing God loves us as we are for salvation and believing God is alright with us remaining as we are as new creations. I can’t believe that any parent has never lost their patience with a child and needs help to overcome. We all do.
The tough list above can be viewed as loving and kind when we love because He first loved us.
As we taste and see that God is good by seeking to know and grow in Him, we experience His working in our lives and desire more.
And as we yield, the Spirit works, changing our desires and appetites for the things we used to hate. It is a supernatural work and a mystery of grace.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be admonished. Does it feel good? Not at first usually, because we still battle with our flesh having its own way. We still would rather rest than work. But God says we can do both. We can come to Him and find rest and be fueled to do the good works He assigned to us.
As we grow, we become more confident in who we are in Christ and can handle the teaching and admonishing. We don’t keep questioning our place in God’s kingdom or our worth as a child of God and genuinely begin to thirst for more.
What a gift the hard work is to those who commit their ways to God. Purging hurts in the moment, but the space it creates for moving from one glory to another and greater intimacy with God is the path to true freedom and peace.
How do you respond to admonition? Do you rebuff it or invite it in to wrestle with it for awhile so that God’s Spirit can give you greater fruit?