But as the child matures the method of instruction changes. For example, have you ever noticed you don't have to teach children how to lie? Love administers correction, pain, to teach them there are consequences for lying, not obeying their parents instruction, being disrespectful of elders etc. (Proverbs 22:15, 23:13 & 29:15).
As I matured into my teenage years I played football. You can get hurt if you are not careful. Therefore, the method, content and expectations the coaches put upon us also increased. Their love for us and the game was expressed through drills and disciplines that were forms of tough love. The more you bled and sweated in practice the more likely you'd play safe and win. I learned you were more likely to get hurt when you only played at half speed.
I Learned Tough Love in the Navy
When I joined the Navy, the stakes got even higher. In fact, we operated in an environment sometimes where even in peace time where there was a higher risk of injury and death. Therefore the officers and drill instructors involved in my training confronted even the smallest infractions. Why? Because of the consequences.
I'll never forget Master Sergeant Flagger marching into my first day of Aviation Officer Candidate School and throwing a desk through the wall to get our attention. Why? Because two of his men had been killed trying to rescue a pilot and he was going to make sure that if anyone else died they'd be worth it. My class started with 42 and only 15 of us made it through. His method was designed to create an experience we'd never forget! His motive? Love of the brotherhood, love for the Corps, love for His country. You see, he lived, they lived, we lived what Jesus taught about "greater love has no one than this, than to lay one's life down for his friends." John 15:3
You cannot prepare the army of God
using the same disciplines you would use with a little child!
The problem we have today is that a significant portion of the Church majors on the love that is displayed through the Lamb of God to children. They'll never mature unless a father's love is demonstrated through progressive correction (Hebrews 12:6). What do I mean by progressive correction/instruction. I mean as responsibility grows the consequences for failure to perform increases.
Growth is of a child is assured if they are fed. Maturity is assured if they are trained.
God used the Navy as my seminary. I saw many Biblical truths and principles actually applied there than I ever did in the local churches which focused primarily on meeting people's needs. The military prioritized their country and assigned mission first. The people, which are considered very important, were prioritized second. It reminds me of what Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 about seeking the kingdom first and then all your needs would be taken care of.
The Spiritual War is a Culture War
Bottom line, you cannot prepare the army of God using the same kinds of disciplines you would use with a little child. The truth is, we were born into a spiritual war that spilled from heaven to earth in Revelation 12 and the issue at hand are the souls of men and women and their eternal destiny in heaven or in hell.
Words Define the Boundaries
In a spiritual war and in a culture war words and ideas are important. In fact, that is where the conflict comes in. It's competing ideas. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 underscores this point as it says "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ..."
In a culture war, words define the lay of the land. The create the boundaries of an issue. The Devil seeks to inspire his children (John 8:44) to use deceit to create faux or a pseudo moral high ground. Why? Because the high ground gives them an advantage. As a teaching is developed around that it becomes a stronghold in their thinking. How does Satan do this? Why it is revealed in 1 Timothy 4:1-2. It is through doctrines of demons.
1 John 3:8 reveals the Son of God's purpose. It is to destroy the works of the evil one. So guess what our mission is? How did Jesus destroy the works of the evil one? By speaking truth and acting upon the truth. John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way of the Lord. Jesus followed Him carrying the message of the gospel of the kingdom. Neither of these shied from speaking the truth nor confronting evil.
Bottom line, love confronts! Love speaks the truth. That is what the King of Kings and Lord of Lord's does. That's what the Prince of Peace, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah does. He is a warrior, a commander, and a king. Kings were made to make decisions (judge) and make war. That's what it says about Jesus in Revelation 19:11-15. "...In righteousness, he judges and makes war."
As one matures in Christ they come to know Jesus as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. They first knew Him as the Lamb of God but now they begin to learn about other aspects of His character which include righteousness and justice. They get a revelation of Him as the Captain of the Hosts of Heaven, the Commander of the Lord's army! He's the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. They begin to learn that true mercy can only be displayed in the context of and with a foundation of righteousness and justice. These concepts are inseparable.
It was the Lion of the Tribe of Judah who made a whip and drove money changers out of the temple. It was the Lion of the Tribe of Judah who confronted the Pharisees and Saducees of their hypocrisy calling them snakes and vipers in His rebuke. It was the Lion of the Tribe of Judah who warned the people to beware of the leaven of Herod too! That was love in action bringing correction.
Jesus said that the second greatest command was to love your neighbor as yourself. He was quoting Leviticus 19:17-18. It is the first place in scripture where this concept is mentioned. The first mentioned principle is key for it forms the foundation of a concept all through scripture. It says:
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
Bottom line, loving your neighbor includes confronting and rebuking them! That's mature love. We also find that Ephesians 4 describes God's plan to mature His Church. It is in that context that He says in verse 15 "but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—." The word translated love is from the Greek word agape!
So it is agape love that confronts. It is mature love that corrects.
Many love to quote Malachi 4:5-6 about the prophet Elijah.
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
And he will turn The hearts of the fathers to the children,
And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
But to really understand this we must consider the context. Start with just verse 1 and you'll read how it describes the Day of the Lord which comes like an oven which burns up any who are proud and lofty. Verse 3 describes how the wicked will be trampled under foot.
Consider the methods Elijah used in turning the heart of the Father to the children and the children to the Father. God loved Israel and displayed His love by sending a prophet to confront false religions, prophets and the government (king & queen) who harbored and propagated the worship of false gods. God answered with fire from heaven. Again, the consequences were life and death. While Jezebel rejected the word we can see Elijah had some impact on King Ahab and upon many of the people.
Mature Love Understands Consequences
Scripture says that God will send the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way of the Lord. John the Baptist came in that spirit. We find him calling people to repent, rebuking religious hypocrites, addressing social justice issues and confronting the sin blatantly displayed by a king and queen... their government.
Mature love understands God's word. It understands that there is a pattern in God's word represented a phrase mentioned 46 times in 1st and 2nd Kings through 1st and 2nd Chronicles 46 times. It's the phrase that follows a king's wicked policy or law which "made Israel sin."
Often these were abominations that Leviticus 18 and 20 say will cause the land to vomit the inhabitants out (Lev. 18:25). It's a life and death situation my friends. The consequences of ignoring the consequences associated with eternal spiritual laws is not only life and death but also have eternal consequences.
Where are the Elijah's Today?
It is the same today in America. The Democratic platform has become a platform for doctrines of demons. It's platform mimics what Satan did to attack God's people through Pharaoh and Herod which murdered the babies. It undermines God's design for marriage, legalizes and encourages the abominations in Leviticus 18 and destroys individuals destines through gender confusion.
God sent Elijah, to speak the truth in love and call a nation back to him. Mature love understands the harsh consequences and recognizes that gross sin often requires radical boldness to stand against the demonic onslaught recognizing the demons need a host to work through.
I know it says we don't war against flesh and blood but through principalities and powers etc. But the truth is, the demonic needs a host to speak and operate through. We see all through scripture how the demonic was manifested through people and the confrontation of evil required addressing the people who displayed the demonic.
Oh Lord, where are the Elijah's today who'll boldly confront the lies with the truth, the Way the True and the Life, Jesus Christ!
A Sober Look at Christendom Today
If we look at what is taught in Christendom today about God's love and then judge the teaching by the actions, it seems as if what is being taught is love:
- Does not offend
- Avoids confrontation
- Is silent
That's what the actions say to me where as the love displayed by Christ:
- Purposely offended those who should know better (ie. Pharisees, Sadducees, Herod, lawyers...)
- Confronted habitual sin and the issues of the day. In fact, He was hated because He spoke the truth (John 15)
- Spoke everywhere He went
- The only place i can find "tolerate" in scripture is where Jesus rebuked the Church at Thyratira for tolerating Jezebel.
As love matures in a person, they move from knowing the Lamb of God to knowing the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. This is "maturing love." But the truly "mature love" is displayed through those who know both the love of the Lamb and the love of the Lion and they can discern which type of love ought to be displayed in each situation they encounter.
Lord I pray for a mature Church. A Church who knows the fullness of your love and have the courage to share it this day. I call forth a company, a remnant army who will like Jesus, destroy the works of the devil, speak the truth in love, and lay down their lives for Your glory, in Jesus mighty name.
Here's an example of speaking the truth in love.