READ: Psalm 141, Matthew 23, Hebrews 5
STRIKES OF KINDNESS
Unfortunately those who walk with Jesus the longest are just as susceptible to becoming “dull of hearing” as the unconverted (Heb. 5:11). The more we know about Jesus, if we are not careful, the harder it is for the Spirit to explain things to us. We often regress in intimacy the more we increase in head knowledge. Ironically, the more we know about Jesus, the less we can actually know Him, for without intimacy there is no lasting revelation. We tend to regress from “food to milk” (v. 12). It is like we lose our spiritual teeth and are unable to chew on fresh revelation, and we get spiritual dementia losing the exercised sense of discernment (v. 14). Into this malady God sends friends who are loving and wise enough to strike us.
The Psalmist prayed: “Let the righteous strike me, it shall be a kindness . . . it is excellent oil, let my head not refuse it” (Psalm 141:5). Though we have one teacher, the Christ (Matt. 23:8), we have many brothers and sisters, and the most loving of our siblings will tell us when we are being fools. We best humble ourselves when we accept the correction of our peers (v. 12). We best love our friends when we confront them on their folly. These are delicate waters and much abused (either by too much silence or too much criticism), yet absolutely crucial if the family is to be healthy. Nothing can be as kind as loving rebuke.
The image of Jesus has been so twisted and diminished in our day that we have lost the sense of His strikes of kindness. Incarnation adopted the human nature but never relinquished the divine. Jesus still stands above humanity as its teacher and judge. When we refuse to be teachable, Jesus in kindness just hammers us. In Matthew 23, Jesus uses the following terms of endearment for the unteachable (and remember missionaries and ministers are the modern functional equivalent of Pharisees and Sadducees): sons of hell (v. 15), fools and blind (v. 19), blind guides (v. 24), self indulgent (v. 25), dry and dead (v. 27), hypocrites and lawless (v. 28), and serpents and brood of vipers (v. 33). He said all these niceties because those who had a knowledge of the truth refused to listen (v. 34) and in fact lashed out at those who spoke the truth (v. 37). Gentle Jesus is not afraid to throw around some pretty pointed descriptors for those who think they know the way of righteousness.
The wisest Christian is the one smart enough to thank the friends that wound him or her. The bravest Christian is the one brave enough to wound the ones he or she loves. To strike with kindness is to hope, heal, mercy and be willing to suffer hurt in able to help.