A Good Warning Now
Wednesday - August 26th Scripture to Read for Today's Devotional: Hebrews 3:12-19
Today's Selection from our Sermon on the Mount Reading Plan: Matthew 7:1-12
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.
Hebrews 3:13 NLT
Hans Island is a small, uninhabited, barren rock in the Arctic Circle with no known reserves of oil or gas. Yet, there is an ongoing territorial dispute between Denmark and Canada over who owns this little rock. This dispute is an odd one.
Unlike many other territorial conflicts, this one takes place in a markedly peaceful way. With no real diplomatic damage possible, the Canadians and Danes take turns placing their respective flags on the island, a curious practice that has been going on since the 1980s.
The island dispute first began in 1933 but was largely forgotten during World War II. The unusual conflict started up again in 1984. During a visit to Hans Island, the Danish Minister to Greenland planted his nation's flag and left a message saying, "Welcome to the Danish island!" He also sat a bottle of Danish Brandy at the base of the flag.
The Danes and the Canadians change the flags back and forth periodically. Each time they do, the Canadians leave a bottle of Canadian Club and the Danes a bottle of Schnapps.
The civil conflict remains unresolved today. But, it may grow in importance as more oil and natural gas get discovered in the Arctic each year. The region will increase in value as natural resources become available, and new shipping routes are opening up. The friendly switching out of flags may reach a point of contention between the Canadians and Danes. Neither side wants conflict. Other nations have begun to warn both sides to reach some agreement or compromise before the current, peaceful differences get out of control. These countries believe if both sides heed the warning now, serious tensions can be avoided.
The Scriptures have much to say about heeding warnings before it is too late. Healthy Christian relationships go beyond only encouraging each other and find ways to admonish or exhort each other. No one likes a sense of conflict. None of us should ever have a judgmental spirit. After all, as we explored this past weekend at Calvary, Jesus warned us to make sure we are in the right place spiritually and morally before we address sin in the life of another brother or sister in Christ.
Over the last several days, our Take5 devotionals have focused on the "One Another" commands of the New Testament. Hebrews 3:13 conveys another "One Another" for our lives as the followers of Christ. This may be the least popular of these commands. The verse says, "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." Notice the warning should be shared with purpose. It is given to a brother or sister to keep them from being deceived and ending up with a heart hardened to the Lord.
We should approach someone caught up in sin or drifting toward sin humbly, having addressed the beam in our own eye before we address the speck in the other person's eye (Matthew 7:1-5). Making sure we do not have glaring sin in our lives allows us to be clear in our love and the communication of our concern. We should not wait until our lives are totally perfect. We will never feel confident to warn someone else if we wait until we think we have no faults whatsoever.
Acknowledging our own shortcomings, having dealt with our blatant sin, and approaching with deep humility are all key to warning another Christian properly and with integrity. We should have lives and hearts open to the warning of other believers. Who in your life has been, or seems to be, drifting toward behavior that would dishonor the name of Jesus? Prayerfully ask the Lord to prepare your heart to approach that person.
Examine your own life. Ask the Spirit of God to search you and show you those things you need to confess, repent of, and change before you warn someone else. Don't let your fears or insecurities stop you from lovingly coming alongside a Christian brother or sister and warning them regarding the direction of his or her life. If you are unwilling to confront another Christian when God prompts you to do so, you may be complicit in their sin and rebellion against God.
Warning another person is never easy, but it is often necessary. It can be the most loving thing you can do.