I am a work in progress. Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Surely, this verse gives me hope because as of today, I am not complete; I am still in process. It is true that I have been justified, my legal standing before God is done because Christ’s righteousness has been graciously applied to me. I know my end … praise The Lord! But, I’m not there yet. My sanctification, God’s work to make me more like Christ, is in the here and now. “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13)
There are struggles in the road of sanctification. I am no longer under the dominion of sin, but there is still a battle with sin and my flesh. So when my husband confronts me with a particular sin (speaking the truth in love, of course), a battle begins within me. He could see the growing strain in my relationship with my son, Gabriel, and has observed that I have had a shortage of patience with him. Gabriel will often get “stuck”. He needs repetition to learn and find assurance, but sometimes that repetition of words, actions, and conversations becomes unnecessary and even a deterrent to effective communication. The process of getting him “unstuck” is not always easy, and this is where I begin to lose patience. Gently, my husband reminded me, “You know how he is. He has a fragile heart. He needs you to sit down with him longer and talk with him to help him through it.” Did I mention that my husband is very gentle with me, even in times of much needed rebuke? But still, I fought against it, coming up with different excuses and sob stories why the counsel he’s giving me seems impossible. However, in the end, God had me where He wanted me, confessing my sins and asking Him to grant me that, which I know He has an abundance of: patience.
Some of my sins are done in secret or in my thoughts so that unless I act out on them, no one will know, except God, of course. But there will be some sins that will be obvious, especially to those closest to me; namely, my husband and children. So I am thankful when a loving rebuke comes to me from my husband. It’s never easy to hear, but I know he has my best interest in mind. To have a friend like that is truly a blessing from God. Even before I got married, I had a few faithful friends, who knew me and did not shrink back from telling me the hard thing because they were concerned about my relationship with Christ.
Friends are many things to us. They are our companions, confidants, counselors, and cheerleaders. They serve us and serve with us. They pray for us and with us. They encourage us during the setbacks, toil with us through the difficulties, and rejoice with us in the victories. But perhaps, one of the hardest, but most precious, act of a faithful friend is to bring us the pain that we need so that we may experience the healing power of Christ.
“Better is open rebuke than hidden love.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:5-6)
(Photo credit1: Jing Qu)
(Photo credit2: Gwen)