I had a day a few days ago that has left a verse branded in my heart and is continually being used to sanctify my own heart and transform my philosophy of ministry.
“You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord. “You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:15-18
This day was not innately abnormal from other days in my life. I started off working a few hours in the office, then I then spent three hours at school lunches with our students at a high school in our community. I left there and went back to the office and worked for a few more hours. After that I went and picked up a friend from work who wasn’t able to drive. I finished my day with a two hour workout with some of my students; afterwards I went home and cleaned my house, and went to sleep, a pretty typical day.
What was so significant about this ordinary day was how the Holy Spirit began to teach me the incredible significance of Leviticus 19:15-18 to the ministry of reconciliation that I (you) have been called. The Holy Spirit had started the evening before in a conversation that I was having with a dear friend who was gently and relentlessly rebuking me for sin in my life that I was somewhat blinded to. You would think that in that admonishment that I had received that I would feel angry, hurt or even condemned. Quite to the contrary, because of my brother’s deep love for the Lord, his commitment to me and his enmity towards sin, my response was one of repentance, joy and encouragement. My brother had loved me enough and hated sin enough to rebuke me out of his own passionate love for God.
So as I found myself in ministry with my students the next day, this Leviticus theme continued at school lunches with my students, during a car ride with a dear friend, and even at the gym during a grueling workout, the Lord continually gave me opportunities to admonish my students in the same Christ-like way that I had been rebuked the night before – out of deep love for my students, driven by a profound enmity for sin, and founded in a immense desire to honor and glorify the Lord.
What exactly is the writer of Leviticus (most likely Moses) saying in Leviticus 19:15-18? The essence of this passage parallels with Ephesians 4:15 “Speaking the truth in love.”
The first part of this passage talks about perverting justice by not rebuking our brothers based on their status, financial position or favoritism. It highlights our motivation in our admonitions in two part; first out of love for God and our brother, and secondly, that we ourselves become involved in the sin by not speaking against it.
Now what is the message we are speaking? It is truth. Truth is not our opinion about where we feel our brother should be or not be in his spiritual walk. Our own opinion is the least significant tool that we have been given in our toolbox of reconciliation. The truth is the word that we hold up for our brother as a mirror that the word may read his own heart and through that convict and transform.
Lastly, the driving force behind this culture of rebuke is love. It is first founded in our love for our holy and righteous God and his violent pursuit of our own righteousness. And secondly, because He first loved us, our motivation for rebuke is out of immense love for our brother. To not biblically confront is a motive deeply rooted in passive and subtle hatred.
“Our failure to confront one another biblically must be seen for what it is: something rooted in our tendency to run after god-replacements. We comfort unbiblically (or not at all) because we love something else more than God. Perhaps we love our relationship with this person so much that we don’t want to risk it. But, if we love God above all else, confrontation is in extension and expression of that love.“ – Paul David Tripp
May the inherent words found in Leviticus 19:15-18 propel us into a culture of admonition and rebuke. May we as parents, pastors, youth leaders and even students walk in a deep love that relentlessly combats sin and promotes holiness, and may this confrontation be intergenerational.