Reproof – how to recognize God in your trying circumstances

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Three signs of reproof

reproofGod never despises or discards Christians that he has reproved; on the contrary, his greatest desire is to approve such believers. God is the one who most loves us and is willing to invest in our lives in any way necessary. The word reproof, no matter how painful the concept it seemingly represents, also implies the purpose of giving us another chance.

The first step of approval is to recognize the validity of reproof when it legitimately confronts us. However, we must be honest with ourselves. Without humility and brokenness, the conflicts of life will eventually break us. Continued failure to receive reproof properly through divine confrontation will eventually destroy us.

Paul the Apostle offers important advice which he aptly applies to this reality:

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disqualified. (2 Corinthians 13:5)

By following this advice, we can hold a type of “spiritual x-ray” to the light of spiritual principles in the life of a person that God has reproved, and examine the most common symptoms that identify failure to respond properly to reproof.

Symptoms of reproof

Chronic and generalized mistrust

Invariably, believers that experience God’s reproof have opened themselves up to so much disappointment in life that they are no longer able to trust others. A generalized lack of trust begins to govern their relationships. They react by unjustly discriminating against anyone they meet who, in their mind represent those who have deceived or hurt them in the past and consequently,  judges them as a threat.

In the days of the Apostle Paul, there were many imposters, not only in the established faith of Judaism but also in the newborn faith of Christianity. Because of this, Paul felt it was necessary to confront and alert the church in Corinth with respect to his own ministry in their lives:

Since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you. (2 Corinthians 13:3)

Even though God was powerfully using Paul, many people found it hard to trust him. They recklessly mistrusted everyone around them. Paul’s persecutors easily convinced them that they should reject his message. Therefore, they wanted more proof that Paul was a legitimate man of God. They harbored so much unfounded lack of trust, that Paul presented their symptom of acute mistrust as evidence of divine reproof.

When we constantly disqualify and mistrust others gratuitously with little or no reflection or basic respect for the possible value they may offer, such an attitude constitutes strong evidence that the problem is in us. Upon reflection, such an attitude betrays a personality sickly twisted by the refusal to recognize and accept the responsibility to accept God’s reproof through unjust circumstances of life.

Our own betrayal is the principal root of lack of trust! When we are not faithful in a thing or an area, we tend to transfer this lack of trustworthiness to others. We see others as we see ourselves. Every time we judge a person or situation without knowing all the facts, we employ our own, jaded pattern of truth for such judgment. In this case, we merely reveal our own lack of trustworthiness. Our frivolous precipitated judgment is merely a reflection of our inner man. Because of remaining unresolved abuses and injustices that we have suffered, we wound others in the same areas that they have wounded us as we exercise a generalized lack of trust that only reinforces and reveals our own condition of reproof.

Stagnation and depression

Stagnation and depression are consequences of spiritual stress. Obviously, a person whom God has reproved as already defined, has failed some kind of test and therefore must submit to a new one.

If we repeatedly fail to respond appropriately to reproof, we will fall into a vicious cycle of chronic reproof provoking a deep state of stress that will cause us to give up, stagnate and fall into depression. Invariably, the process of repeatedly failing the test imposes an internal spiritual stress that sickens hope and crushes self-respect.

At this point, any spiritual effort seems excessively heavy, difficult, tiring and even intolerable. A grain of sand seems to weigh a ton. We can no longer tolerate even five more minutes of Bible reading and just two minutes of prayer leaves us exhausted. We lose all interest in the lost. This crushing weight of spiritual apathy always coexists with serious states of reproof.

Due to the lack of flexibility, feelings of inferiority and above all pride, we flee God’s reproof in our lives. This removes us from the path of God’s divine will and as a consequence our spiritual life becomes a tremendous weight. Nothing seems to work out. The anointing in our lives ceases! Several areas of our lives become spiritually frozen.

We may even be able to tolerate this for a while however; abandonment and apathy end up taking over. Every case of chronic reproof sickens the conscience, shakes our faith, and eventually leads to spiritual stagnation.

Apostasy many times occurs in a passive and subtle manner. Although many continue to attend a church, they have given up their commitment to the will and the truth of God long ago.

This settled emotional mechanism of apathy and depression is the first stage of the most horrible apostasy into which a person can fall. The prophecy of Scripture alerts us that the last days will be marked by apostasy. We must not underestimate the possibility of apostasy that imperceptibly begins with spiritual reproof and then grows in strength leading to spiritual stagnation and finally death.

Resentment and self-preservation

Resentment and self-preservation normally work hand-in-hand decidedly contributing to our own stubbornness. All resentment creates barriers. These emotional cares and barriers end up causing serious conflicts that prevent us from discerning God’s will. Internal confusion and many existential doubts begin to set in.

The resentful person is not able to establish a genuine conviction of the will and direction of God for his life. The person perceives only the things that he does not want for his own life, since he feels overcome by resentment and worldly cares.

Examples of typical confessions that convey this spirit of prevention and self-preservation are expressed in comments such as, “I’m not sure what God has for me, I only know that there are certain places that I will never go, certain things that I will never do, and certain people who I will never speak to, ever!” The person chooses what God’s will is for himself. Such people end up transforming their own will into the voice of God.

Induced by the unhealthy self-preservation that resentful people have built up in their own hearts they invariably suffer the bitter fruit of their own wrong choices, which will end up costing them a great price in pain, regret and sorrow. Instead of benefiting from God’s loving guidance such people are led by their own inner hurts, which they have idolized and insistently defended through all types of excuses!

For every lame excuse we use in the attempt to justify our resentment, Satan adds a few more of his own, and thus many people embroiled in resentment are able to come up with great feats of spiritualizing their inner hurts and self-imposed barriers. Somehow, they have grown accustomed to failure in resolving their own conflicts.

In the spiritual walk, there are many “Garden of Gethsemane” and “Mount Calvary” experiences where others betray and abandon us and we have to face diverse types of disappointment. The weight of anguish and death begins to crush us. Many unexpected things happen which nobody likes. However, there is no way that we can go back in time and now we must make a decision.

It is exactly at this point that many make the worst decision by not overcoming the emotional trauma of the crash course of unforeseen adverse circumstances along the way pressing on with unbounded determination to reach the prize of their sovereign vocation in Christ. Each time that we fail to forgive, to renounce and to surrender all feelings of injustice and loss to God, in some way, our lives become terribly imprisoned, betraying a clear state of reproof.

2 Responses to “Reproof – how to recognize God in your trying circumstances”

  1. robotfx says:

    Very interesting details you have observed , regards for posting . “You bluffed me I don’t like it when people bluff me. It makes me question my perception of reality.” by Andrew Schneider.

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