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10. Guard One Another's Hearts

The greatest need we have is the experiential knowledge of the power of the Holy One who fills us right now with His glory. But we also need courage. What I need from you and what you need from me is EN-courage-ment, the impartation of heart.

10. Guard One Another's Hearts

© Daniel Yordy 2008
 

But, speaking the truth in love, we may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. Ephesians 4:15-16

There is an ingredient that is essential to our transformation into the image of Christ that can come to us only through our relationship with other members of the body of Christ. A close knit relationship. A walking together, a working together, a praying together, a sharing of the ups and downs of life together.

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12 that we rejoice with those who rejoice and that we weep with those who weep. The life of the body of Christ is an intimately shared life. This body of Christ, developing in the womb of the church, grows by the effective sharing by which every part does its share.

I need what my brothers and sisters in Christ have to give me. And they need what I have to give them.

Verse 15: We grow up in all things into Him.

–  We are growing into the image of Christ by speaking the truth in love.

Now, for many years, I lived in an environment where this word was a central part of our relationships. For some strange reason, we were taught that “speaking the truth in love” means that if you love people, you will see when they are sinning. And you will tell them that what they are doing is sinful, that they are walking in the flesh, and they need to stop it and walk with Jesus.

That seemed to be the whole sum of what is meant here by speaking the truth in love. You go and tell people their problems, you tell them what’s wrong with them, and how they need to get out of their flesh and walk in the spirit. Your willingness to confront people with their sins – the doing of that is ‘love.’ If you are a bit harsh when you exercise this ‘contribution’ to the body of Christ, it’s okay because the act of it is ‘love.”

Looking back at it now, I am amazed that sensible people would accept that line of thinking.

I want to look at what the Apostle Paul says to the people God gave him.

In 1 Thessalonians 2, Paul is speaking to believers in Jesus that he had shepherded and fathered in the Lord, he said in verse 19, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and our joy.”

You are our glory and our joy.

What does it mean to speak the truth in love? What is the truth?

The truth is that Christ lives in our hearts by faith. The truth is that we are a new creation. Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new. The truth is that in Christ there is no condemnation.

That the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. Philemon 6

God’s people don’t need to be told that they are making mistakes, that they are blowing it. They need to be told over and over that they have what it takes, that Jesus is in their hearts. That they love Him, that they want to know Him. They need to hear anointed leaders in Christ telling them how well they do, how much they believe that what is inside of them is important and of great value.

I do not tell you that you need what I have. I tell myself that what I have other people need. Because it’s hard sometimes to believe that is really true. But my attitude towards you is that what you have, I need.

Now there is a going to a brother who is caught in a fault that is in the Lord.

Brethren, if a man is taken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2

Restore such a one. That word ‘restore’ is a heart word. We do not go to our brothers and sisters to fix their problems. We go to them to meet their needs. The second greatest need in every one of us who love the Lord Jesus, who long to know Him, is COURAGE.

The greatest need we have is the experiential knowledge of the power of the Holy One who fills us right now with His glory. But we also need courage. What I need from you and what you need from me is EN-courage-ment, the impartation of heart.

When someone is in trouble with a sin that will bring misery or bring damage to other people in the body of Christ, we have a mission, in all gentleness and in all kindness, to restore that heart to the glory it has lost.

The cleansing comes from Jesus. The salvation comes from Jesus. The life inside of them is the life of Jesus. Our role, according to Paul, is to encourage them back into the life that is in their hearts. The glory of Jesus is already inside of them. They simply did not know.

Jesus did not come to fix people’s problems. A blind man cried, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on me.” The crowd was trying to quiet him down, but Jesus came over, looked at him, and said to him, “What do you want of Me.” Come on Jesus, isn’t it obvious. He’s blind. Obviously, he wants his eyes healed. Why do you ask him what he wants?

Jesus asked him what he wanted because Jesus didn’t go around fixing people’s problems; He went around meeting people’s needs. And it wasn’t this man’s eyes that Jesus wanted to connect with, not his external performance, not what he did or didn’t do on the outside.

Jesus came to touch his heart. And Jesus didn’t want to do anything for this man until He first had a relationship with him, heart to heart.

So Jesus said, “What do you want?”  Do you know how many times He asked that of people? “What do you want?” “What is your desire?” He always began His relationship with people from within their hearts. He made sure they first knew their hearts were safe.

I have had Christian brethren, more than once, who believed that speaking the truth meant telling people what was wrong with them, what their problems were, come in a time of great need and weaknes to tell me what my problems were. Thinking that the solution to my ‘problems’ was for me to ‘face my iniquity.’ There is nowhere in the New Testament that teaches that facing our iniquity has anything to do with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The sharing of our faith becomes effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing that is in me in Christ Jesus. To face your iniquity is to turn your back on Jesus. To face Jesus is to turn your back on your iniquity.

As these brethren, whom I dearly love, walked out the door thinking they had accomplished their mission, leaving me in despair. I thought to myself, with all sincerity of heart, “Do they even think I am a Christian? Do they even think that I love Jesus as much as they?”

In a time of great vulnerability (I share this with purity of heart, I have nothing against this dear brother; I honor him and respect him), when I was in the most vulnerable and lowest time I have known in my life, I went to a brother and shared with him my dilemma, not knowing where to turn. I told him that I was a broken and shattered man. His counsel to me was this, “You can’t know what you are, other people have to tell you what you are, and I assure you, Daniel, you are the proudest man I have ever known.”

His words did not bother me; they could not because I was as low as I had ever been. He had no more counsel for me. He is a dear brother who moved in a great anointing and great love in the Spirit, and yet by this false definition of what it means to speak the truth in love, that was all the counsel he had to give me.

No encouragement, no speaking the truth of Christ in me, of the life of Jesus that filled me. I left him without a shred of hope left in my heart.

We have a responsibility in God to protect and guard one another’s hearts. We have a responsibility in God to guard our own hearts and not allow shame and darkness to come in, to speak evil things about who we are or who our brother is.

When it says “speak the truth in love,” that outer, external thing people think they know so much about is not the truth. When they try to ‘fix’ their brother by speaking about his ‘outer flesh nature,’ they are not speaking the truth, they are speaking lies. They need to speak to him the truth of the life that he is right now before God, just like Jesus.

We don’t have a clue what God is doing in the life of another. I don’t have a clue what God is doing in your life. God has never told me, and He never will. God has never told anyone what He is doing in the life of another person. He may at times give a word for us to share with a brother. If it is a word from God, it will always be a word that encourages, that restores the heart to joy and faith and confidence in Jesus. But God never includes inside any word He might give to share any inside knowledge about what He is doing in another person’s life.

There is one sin in the church and that is losing our confidence and our joy. If we want to draw a brother out of sin, we don’t deal with the sin; we draw his heart into confidence and joy.

We are those who dance on this side of the sea. We are those whom God leads in triumph before the victory is won. That is how we relate to one another; that is how we encourage one another. It is by speaking the truth of the wonderful person our brother is.

When our brother is caught in a fault, shame has overshadowed his heart. He has forgotten how much God likes him. In his fearfulness of God, he has pulled away from Him. He hides behind the fig leaves of stiffness and struggles to hide his shame. He is very ashamed of himself, and he does not need to be.

As we encourage one another, as we impart courage to our brother’s heart, the body of Christ is growing up. We are becoming just like Jesus.

So what is this ingredient? What do I need from my brothers and sisters in Christ and that they need from me? It includes a number of things. It includes my ministering the gifts God gives me to my brothers and sisters and my receiving from them of the gifts God has given them. In Romans 12, Paul talks about the grace that each one of us has received from God that enables us to minister our gifts to the other members of the body of Christ.

But I am convinced there is an ingredient essential to our transformation, to this development of the life of Christ inside of us that is so life changing. It is this. When you walk together with brothers and sisters who know you, they know your ups and downs, they know your weaknesses. They know the times when you fell flat on your face in the mud. That doesn’t matter to them; they hardly remember it, because they delight in you in the same way that God delights in them. They like you in the same way that God likes them. They want to walk together with you in the same way that God wants to walk together with them.

We express that deep appreciation that we have for our brother, not because he is a Christian, but because we really like him or her. We value them, and they know we value them, and we know they value us. There is inside of this deep appreciation for one another, an appreciation that would never treat our brother with any sign or shadow of contempt or condescension. With no attempt at manipulation, or any thought of superiority, we walk in a love and delight to be together, to talk together, to love one another. A community that is of God is a community that is based first and entirely on friendship. Friendship. That friendship is one of the critical ingredients of our transformation.

At the heart of the relationship that the Father has with the Son, when Jesus said, “That they might be one just as you and I are One.” At the heart of that relationship is friendship. It is friendship. The community of believers that is in my heart is a community of people who care for one another, who fight for one another’s hearts, not against them. Who treasure and value every part of  our brother.

The practice of dividing a brother between flesh and spirit is destructive; there is no fruit or life that comes from it. Our brother, our sister, are whole people. We receive them as whole people.

And we encourage one another to take a step of faith. Do you know that it’s easy to discourage a brother or sister? It just comes quickly and naturally, this ability to discourage. You hear a brother sharing some thought or something that means something to his heart and it is so easy to put him down, to say “Well, that’s not God.” Or, “Why’d you say something dumb like that?” Because when you discourage, you keep control; you have it under your control.

It’s much harder to encourage, to believe God for what is in a brother’s heart, to release your brother. It’s very risky. It’s called faith; it’s what God does. You can’t control when you encourage. It’s out of your hands at that point. God encourages; He sets people free.

The ingredient that I need from you and that you need from me more than any other is the encouragement that comes out of genuine friendship based upon appreciating one another. Knowing one another, knowing that the warts, the smear of mud on the face are momentary and that what is in your brother’s heart is beautiful beyond comprehension, waiting to be released in faith.

In his book, Waking the Dead, John Eldredge shares his vision of what he calls ‘fellowships of the heart,’ little communities of believers that share an intimate relationship with one another. They know one another. They know one another in their ups and downs, their ins and outs. And they fight for one another’s hearts. They are there to encourage one another, to help each one find their own confidence in God, their own place of ministry, their own purpose for which they were created individually and personally.

He writes that we were born into a world at war. From the time that we were conceived on this earth, we have been assaulted by our enemy. Being born again does not make Satan go away, and his goal is to confuse, discourage, and cast shame upon the hearts of believers so they stop believing God.

There is no story written where the hero does it alone. Always the hero draws to himself companions who will help him in his journey and in his victory.  Each one of us needs companions.

John Eldredge writes in Waking the Dead, “A true community is something you’ll have to fight for. You’ll have to fight to get one and you’ll have to fight to keep it afloat. But you fight for it as you bail out a life raft during a storm at sea. You want this thing to work; you need this thing to work. You can’t ditch it and jump back on the cruise ship. This is the church. This is all you have.”

We need one another. But not in the congregations of believers that meet just an hour or two a week. There is value in that, of course. Seeking God together, sitting under the word, these things are always of value. But if it is just an hour or two a week, it is not enough. It is not the kind of intimacy, the kind of knowing and supporting one another, walking together and encouraging one another, restoring one another’s hearts, that we must have to walk this thing through.

To know our transformation into the fullness of Jesus Christ, one of the ingredients comes to us from our brothers and sisters. Simply giving to our brothers and sisters is also an essential ingredient. As we give in that kind of fellowship of the heart, we are being made just like Jesus.

It is a process that we don’t understand; it is a mystery, but we know it is true. We know it is happening as we walk together. As we give out of our hearts to one another and as we fight for one another’s hearts, there is something taking place inside of us, whether we can see it or not.

We are being transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another.” The ingredient that we must have is a fellowship of love.

. . . Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.