April 7, 2021
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"Dad, can you fix this?" I used to hear that every once in a while. And with my mechanical abilities being what they were, my best answer was usually, "It's doubtful." But I would pull out my trusty tool chest and give it a shot.
One thing even I know though, it's important to use the right tool. For example, let's say a wheel needs to come off a bike and be taken to the bike shop to be repaired. Now because I was usually in a hurry, my first choice would be to reach for a hammer. You know, hammers get jobs done quickly, right? Well, it would also be the worse choice. I mean, I might be able to knock that tire off the bike, but the damage isn't going to be worth it. It's quick, but I wouldn't call it efficient. Some jobs require a wrench, and of course you have to find the right sized wrench. Some require a screwdriver and you've got to find the, you know, Phillips, standard, whatever. You've got to get the right kind; the right size. Some jobs require pliers, and they almost all require patience. You know, fixing people is a lot like that.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "How Not to Break What You're Trying to Fix."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Paul's last letter in 2 Timothy 4; I'm reading verse 2. Here's what he says: "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season, correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction." Okay, do you know Paul just gave us three tools in the tool box? Three tools you and I can use in fixing people.
Now I'm sure there's someone in your life who could use some work right now, right? Yeah, you're thinking of them. Okay, maybe you're married to them, or maybe it's your parent, or a child, or a friend, or somebody in your church. How do you most effectively get that person to change? Well, you have to pick the right tool. And Paul suggests three here: rebuke, correct, encourage.
Okay, rebuke? That means to confront someone with what they're doing wrong. Once one of our youth staff decided that she had to confront - or rebuke as it were - a young girl who was professing Christ but who was living very promiscuously and had that kind of reputation with guys. And she said to the young girl, "I care enough to tell you what people are saying about you." The girl was shocked at what her reputation was. That was rebuke.
Then there's correct. You don't just tell a person what not to do. You've got to suggest a better way to live. You've got to give a "how" with every "should." And then there's another tool called encourage; noticing the good in a person, praising what they're doing right, building up their confidence, showing trust in them. And it's important to reach for the right tool. Don't encourage someone you should be rebuking. Don't rebuke someone who really needs encouragement.
But notice how you use all three tools: "with great patience and careful instruction." See, we want quick results; we grab the hammer. We drop bombs on people. We push them, we nag them, and they rebel. They go the other way. They don't change. We use the hammer because it will get quick results, but it smashes everything. We break what we're trying to fix. Have you been patient in your rebuking, patient in your correcting? Or are you too demanding, condemning? Do you expect immediate response or are you just going to escalate the rhetoric?
Help a person see himself or herself as God sees them and then back off. Allow time for the truth to sink in. Give them some space to change without having to crawl. Use these people-fixing tools with great patience, and I'd say gentle love, and then you won't break what you're trying to fix.