A Rebuke Worse than God’s?

wrathWhen I mess up at work, and my boss calls me on the carpet about it, I’ll feel awful for a week and redouble my efforts to improve my work processes.

When my mistakes affect a coworker or increase their burden, I’ll feel even worse and seek to do them favors.

When my pastor point out an error in ministry, or even just provide advice upon my own prompting on how I could refine a certain area, (by the way, people, do not start walking on eggshells around me because of this post – I need and value correction), I’ll be quite humbled for a while.

And when a friend or family member expresses disappoint in me for whatever reason, an entire fortnight goes in the tank.

But when I sin and only God sees?

Well, something’s different. And not in a way that should be.

I do feel bad about such sin…somewhat. I do seek to change. But when it’s a tangible person in front of me, pointing out my wrong, the shame is so much more immediate, more intense, more pure. It affects my stomach. My face goes red. Something in my very body seems to register it as more real.

While the irritation (for example) that I sometimes harbor in my heart towards a coworker, and only God sees, doesn’t make my shoulders slump nearly as severely when the Holy Spirit points it out.

That is not how it should be.

God is just as real as any person. The Spirit whom we grieve (Ephesians 4:30) is just as real as any chain of earthly dominoes that might get knocked over by my sin. And it is God first and foremost that my sin is ultimately directed against; it is his holiness, his glory that is insulted, before that of any other (Psalm 51:4). That’s why there is no “victimless sin”.

He never stopped being the wrathful, vengeful God before whom the Old Testament bows in reverent fear. He just gave us a Savior upon whom to unleash his wrath instead.

That should at least give us pause.

Perhaps sin just seems more real when I physically see its effects.

Or perhaps I still too often see God as just a set of rules, rather than a holy Being with real thoughts, thoughts very much different than my own. The work of getting to know my God is still underway, and spiritual solipsism is easy to slip into. This is why glimpses behind the veil are so shudderingly wonderful.

I know God isn’t exactly asking me to wallow in sin. He asks me to “approach the throne of grace with confidence, that I may find grace and mercy in time of need”, and to seek his strength to avoid sin the next time. He never wants sin to drive us further from him, but rather closer to him.

Yet, too often, a dull apathy exists towards even approaching the throne. I should be racing towards it. Where is the grief that David expressed in Psalm 51, the grief that would let him alone until he sought God’s forgiveness?

Lord, renew our minds until you are just as real to us as any person.

Change our hearts away from all sin.

Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within us.

15 thoughts on “A Rebuke Worse than God’s?

  1. Good post. Something I had to learn,to seek the favor of God way above and before the favor of any people in my life. Sometimes people can be useful with their rebukes….but sometimes not. Sometimes they are simply full of coconut candy.

    I used to perceive things backwards,so fearing God’s judgments and therefore preferring the judgment of people. In truth however, God is far more perfect, far more fair of a judge, and rather than fleeing Him in fear, we should run towards Him,because His judgments of us are always going to be well, just and Holy.

    We often tend to hold God in awe, so His judgment is sometimes perceived as more scary,holding more weight. In truth however, I think He calls us to go “boldly before the throne of grace,” or “search my heart oh, Lord,” a rather enthusiastic desire for His judgment, His wisdom, His grace, one where we actually eagerly seek His judgment. Another word for “judgment” might be wisdom, guidance. Not that there is never rebuke, but in Christ there is no condemnation.

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  2. I have noticed that there are two kinds of guilt. They feel about the same, but they have opposite results. Holy guilt leads to genuine repentance. It brings us to the cross where Jesus bestows forgiveness. Unholy guilt creates a barrier between the sinner and God. It is the enemy’s effort to prevent repentance, faith, and absolution. J.

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  3. I think this may be one reason why Christians are encouraged to exhort each other. I think the Holy Spirit can speak to us directly and through the word, but also through each other.

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  4. Amen brother 🙌🏻 walking in conviction is what draws us closer to him, but it takes serious persistence and dedication to stay in that place, and finding the balance that keeps us in grace and out of condemnation. I pray every day that God will convict my heart, spirit and mind so that I can walk in closer obedience with him. I think it’s a battle for every Christian. So glad you shared this!

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  5. Well, I never thought about my own very similar reaction. Not sure I want to say thanks for this, because it’s not really pleasant to contemplate that I take my bosses rebukes more seriously than God’s.

    Well said, though.

    Liked by 1 person

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