Is the Christian Man a Nice Guy?
by O. P. Martin
Is the Christian man a nice guy?
The kind of man God wants Christian men to be can be at times as gentle as Mother Teresa, or at other times as much a warrior as William Wallace, depending on the situation. Jesus was gentle with children and the woman at the well, but rebuked the religious leaders and cleansed the temple.
Yes, a Christian is a nice guy, but he also has the ability to admonish when necessary.
Leviticus 19:17 says, "Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt." The New Testament says the same thing. Even our Lord had to gently rebuke His own mother on more than one occasion when she got out of line. Notice that admonitions are not just for the workplace, but at home as well.
This does not mean that we ought to rage or lose our temper. "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice." - Ephesians 4:31. "for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires." - James 1:20.
One's words can, in themselves, be the power to provide rewards and punishments. Proverbs 18:21 "The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit." But, note that this is not always enough. Proverbs 29:19 "A servant cannot be corrected by mere words; though he understands, he will not respond."
Before making the decision to admonish, it is necessary to discern if admonition is the proper course of action. One of my favorite verses is 1 Thessalonians 5:14: "And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone." This verse shows that the same outward appearance (lack of activity) may require different responses depending on the root cause (idle, timid, weak). This calls for discernment. People get in trouble when they focus on one of the three therapies (warn, encourage, help) to the exclusion of the others. If you are not sure you are properly discerning the situation, or even if you think you are, pray carefully before proceeding.
The verse concludes by saying that patience is for everyone. No discernment is needed there. Patience is the first listed attribute of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4. It is appropriate at all times.
According to Chip Ingram, the best way to admonish is
to first examine your own life, the Word of God, and your motives; then, make an appointment to be alone with the person; start by asking confirming and disarming questions; then lovingly confront with gentleness and respect from the scriptures by motivating, instructing, affirming, and correcting. Then, let it drop; don't keep harping. But, do schedule a follow-up appointment to see how they are doing.
Of course, less serious situations may call for a less formal treatment of the above steps.
After making one's point, it is usually best to drop it, let it rest and not
keep harping. This may help avoid arguments. It takes two to tango. Notice
that this does not mean to avoid follow-up or to neglect sticking to one's guns
as far as consequences are concerned.
Here is some more regarding admonition:
In response to any possible objection that it is not possible to change our
"personality", consider the following verses:
NIV Acts 20:32 Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can
build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
NIV John 8:31-32 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching,
you are really my disciples.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
KJV James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving
your own selves.
NIV Romans 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to
the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
KJV Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by
the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable,
and perfect, will of God.
Thank the Lord for Philippians 4:6 AND 7:
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
NIV 2 Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
NIV 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
NIV Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Notice that these desires can only be those of our new heart in Christ Jesus, which we may not all know yet, but God progressively reveals them to us.
Remember, God's Word is not like any other word; it is alive and creative.
He does not want to change our personality, but our character.
Praise the Lord for how He ministers to us by His Word. Here is some more:
Remember: the "nice guy" is greedy for the emotional approval of men rather
than God. But, he does not yet sufficiently appreciate that:
NIV Proverbs 28:23 He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he
who has a flattering tongue.
Let's meditate on the above verse together.
NIV Ephesians 4:15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things
grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
The same word is translated "encouragement" as "exhortation" in the Greek New Testament. It is the word "paraklesis", and it means to motivate someone to good works; the motive can be either positive or negative. Indeed, God throughout the Bible provides both blessings and curses.
NIV Deuteronomy 30:19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live
The blessings and curses have to do with this life, and even more so, the life to come. If you are a believer, then the curses will have to do with a loss of reward. The Bible teaches that there will be some who are just barely saved, with no rewards, in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. But, why cut it too close? One thing I know is that the Lord gives us both encouragements and exhortations, and we would do well to take both to heart, both for ourselves and those we admonish.
Remember, true encouragement must first of all be true. Flattery doesn't cut it. Likewise, exhortation should be honest and accurate and neither too timid to get the point across nor an exaggeration.
But, I also think, when rebuking, it is wise to choose one's battles carefully (make it count
for something important), since you and I don't like to be corrected often,
NIV Matthew 7:12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to
you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
It does not matter if we seem to convince them or "win the argument", only that
we bore witness to the truth.
NIV Ezekiel 3:19 But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from
his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will
have saved yourself.
Have you admonished anyone today?
NIV Galatians 6:1 "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted."
That same demon that is tempting your brother is watching you, ready to pounce. If you are not paying attention, you will be guilty of the same basic sin of which you have just accused your brother, before you even realized you were being tempted.
As the Lord grows us out of intimidation in confronting people, we will inevitably improve in this area. The devil will try to influence us to fly off to another extreme. We may be tempted to get too caught up in our service to God, even when moving in the gifts of the Spirit, but it will be important for us to remember to emphasize growth in character, the fruit of the Spirit, and love.
1 Corinthians 13:1 "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal."
If you decide to admonish, it may be wise to start small. We need to take baby steps
before we can run. I don't want to bite off more than I can chew and have to
take steps backward.
NIV Luke 14:31 "Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?"
In my experience, if the Lord opens up a good opportunity, as we are praying,
he will give the strength to handle it. It is also my experience that on days
I do not have the strength, He works it out so that my efforts were not needed.
There is a saying: He equips the called more than He calls the equipped.
"The safest place to be is in the will of God."
I am praying for you. Please pray for me, too. Thank you.