I remember years ago when Facebook was the big thing. Not that it still isn’t, but for many younger people, Facebook isn’t their first go-to, it’s Snapchat. For quite some time though, Facebook was the major player when people wanted to share something with the general public. In particular, it was “LMS for truth is” or something to that effect. For you older folks, LMS stands for “like my status”. The whole point to that was anyone who in fact, liked that particular update, the poster would write on the liker’s wall a piece of truthful information that the original poster thought of the liker.
You may be utterly confused by now. I’m almost confused now. Let’s try it again with a realistic scenario. I post on FB, LMS for truth is. You like my status. I now post to your wall with something like, “Truth is…you’re a lot of fun to be around and we should hang out more often.” Pretty simple. Pretty shallow if you ask me. From my limited knowledge, and yet even many would agree, most “truth is” comments were vague and fake. They were generally some eye rolling puff piece, not the real truth. Why? Because sometimes the real truth hurts.
I’m not saying that the poster of LMS should have ripped the liker apart, but every time I saw the scenario, it was always weak. To be honest, I saw a lot of them because I had a lot of the teenagers from my youth group as friends, so they would do it and their friends would do it and they would like their friends’ statuses. I actually preached a sermon called “Truth Is” talking about that very thing.
Most of us were taught at a very young age, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Sorry (not sorry) that was a terrible piece of advice. Now, if you say anything remotely “un-nice” people go ballistic. They simply cannot handle anything less than stellar spectacular positive feedback no matter how wacko they are acting. They want you to confirm that anything they do is ok because it makes them happy. That’s sad, because often times what needs to be said may not seem nice, and that’s ok.
If the truth never hurts, then I can guarantee you that you are constantly getting lied to. We all need to hear things that don’t give us warm fuzzies. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a difference between being downright mean, and what the Bible calls “speaking the truth in love”. That latter phrase was taken from Ephesians chapter 15. In context, Paul was speaking to the Church at Ephesus, but in large, it was a message to all Christians. It was instructions on how to grow into the Body of Christ as God intended.
Every type of growth is accompanied by pains. Physical growth spurts that children go through causes pain. Emotional growth can cause pains. Why should it be any different when it comes to spiritual growth? But how do we grow spiritually? Through correction.
Proverbs 3:12 gives us that guideline and it’s reiterated in Hebrews 12. Now, I want to be clear that the LORD no longer chastens us by physical means. If we mess up, He does not cause tragedy or physical harm to us in order to teach us something. His correction now comes through His word as written in the Bible, it can come through the preaching of the Word, or through someone close to us who is willing to risk the relationship in order to tell you something you may not want to hear. Let me give you an example:
When I was living in Branson, MO, I attended Faith Life Church. Infrequently, Brother Moore’s wife, Phyllis, would preach a message. For whatever reason, it would seem like I always got a “spiritual spanking” when she did. Her sermons would quite often correct me to the point I’d almost hunch down in my seat because I knew I was about to hear something I didn’t want to.
There was one night in particular that opened my eyes. I was sitting near the front of the church, with probably 800-1000 people behind me. I honestly don’t remember what she said exactly, but it was something like this, “Who in here is dealing/having a problem with _______?” I put the blank because I really don’t remember what it was, all I know is I raised my hand because I figured half the people in the room would too. Her next words jolted me into another level. She said, “Well, I guess only three people here are going to get help.” You simply cannot appreciate the tone she uses when she preaches unless you’ve heard her. Anyway, my eyes bugged out of my head.
“Three people, that’s it???? Great, now everyone knows I have been struggling.” That was my initial thought until it sunk in. First, I guarantee more than three people needed help that night, but the other 797 weren’t going to get it because they were to proud to admit they needed the help. Second, it was a turning point for me. I knew at that moment, I was growing. I was growing because I had been willing to accept the correction I had been needing. The LORD was using Sister Phyllis to help me grow spiritually.
I think back to that night quite often and I’ve told that story during many sermons to the youth, because it’s such a powerful moment in my life and it’s a perfect illustration of the Scriptures I mentioned above. Look at this in Hebrews 12:11 NLT:
No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
It stung, almost quite literally, during those sermons I sat through. Up until that last one, I felt quite beat up sometimes. It was painful. It wasn’t enjoyable. However, it was necessary and it was in love. I needed to grow, and because He love me, He corrected me.
2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” Now before I get accused of taking Scripture out of context, I realize that Paul was speaking to the Corinthians about their repentance because of his letter. However, there’s a principle here that is applicable to our live when it comes to correction.
When someone genuinely speaks the truth in love, I believe it brings a Godly sorrow. Because when the truth hurts, and it will, it can be upsetting. I was not the happiest camper in the world during that time. In fact, to be completely transparent, I could have sat down and cried at any given time for no apparent reason…in fact, there were times that I did just that. Yet every time I did, I picked myself back up and pressed on.
The sorrow of the word that Paul says works death, is just the opposite of what I experienced. It’s my belief that the sorrow of the world is condemnation. Is a killer and it’s not from God. Read Romans 8 if you don’t believe me. It is the opposite of what God wants us to experience when we are corrected.
I’d like to give you a little secret when it comes to correction. You probably didn’t pick up on it in my story, but here it is: Humility. You must receive correction with a dose of humility. A proud person cannot and will not accept that they need to change anything. If I had been too proud to put up my hand at that moment, I believe I would have set back my growth even longer. I know that I would have had another opportunity, but as the saying goes, why put off until tomorrow what you can do today?
That moment is as fresh in my mind as the day it happened. I’m glad that I don’t remember what is was that I raised my hand for. It gives the enemy nothing to condemn me with and I know that I’ve gotten the correction I needed. I realize that it took a period of time for God to work me to that point, and I’m so thankful He did.
Ever since then, I’ve looked at correction a little differently than maybe most people. I don’t want to say that I encourage it, but when I feel that little twinge inside, I know precisely what it is and I am thankful for it. It still stings, but it’s a good sting. Kind of like when you put peroxide on a cut. It stings, but you know it’s for your own good.
So, when the truth hurts, let it.