Jerry loved the Lord so much that he never gave up on me. Jerry knew what I didn’t see and that was where my choices were taking me… away from God. I remember avoiding his phone calls or telling him how busy I was; I even changed the subject when we were together and he wanted to talk about God. But Jerry never gave up and refused to pull any punches; he had this way of saying what you needed to hear, but he laughed so much you couldn’t be mad at him. One of the most important things I remember about Jerry is that he loved Jesus… and he loved me.
Paul refused to give up on those God loves as well. He wrote to the church in Corinth a letter “…in great anguish, with a troubled heart and many tears. I didn’t want to grieve you, but I wanted to let you know how much love I have for you” (2 Cor 2:4.) It is not easy to risk rejection, and more so to lose a friendship. But Paul knew there was something greater at stake here, that being his friend’s eternal position with God. It’s those that care about us the most, who are willing to bear the brunt of our rejection and say what is important… even knowing the harm it will cause you or me.
Having finally heard of the churches repentance, Paul writes, “Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death” (2 Cor 7:9-10). We all need someone willing to speak up and care enough to keep reaching out… even when we don’t reach back. We need that person willing to cause the kind of sorrow that makes us face our sin and repent, turning us to God for our salvation. Paul describes their repentance as, “Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.” (v.11)
It’s not hard to tell when someone is struggling with their sin and pride. They keep others who they know will hold them accountable at arm’s length. They will avoid reading what will cause them to face the truth. They stop talking to you, or they will talk over you to expound on ‘their truth’; that lie they have told themselves to justify their own behavior. That ‘lie’ that the ‘gateway’ of pride let seep into their lives. I know… I have done it myself.
I know now how much anguish I caused those like Jerry and my parents who loved me and never gave up on me. I still have the letters they wrote; I wish we could have texted then because I would have heard from them more often and maybe relented more quickly, not having wasted so much time.
Today is day of your salvation if you don’t push away these words and cling to the truth found only in Jesus Christ. Don’t keep Him at arm’s length, reach out and grab the hand of the one God has sent to love you. He isn’t going anywhere, because he knows how much God Loves Him and won’t give up on you.
“Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.” (Hebrews 3:12-14)
Praying 4 U
Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, grandfather, Pastor with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is the Associate Pastor of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church. He is the author of two devotional books, “From a Chair by the Window.” And “#PrayerWinsThe Day”.
Think About This: “It is vital to know that faith is not just an action of your brain; it’s an investment of your life.” ―