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Thursday, April 12, 2007 AD
How to Yell at People
"Yelling" is my euphemism for any sort of exhortation. I'm frequently asking my friends to yell at me or thanking them for doing so. What I really want is encouragement, but by calling it "yelling" I'm trying to convey that I'm open to rebuke, as well, if that's what's called for. In a recent e-mail, I explained to a friend what I meant by "yelling." The following is adapted therefrom.
As for "yelling," what I mean by that is something along the lines of "We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone" (1 Thessalonians 5:14, NASB) -- different kinds of yelling for different kinds of people. The following is my take on those types, based on various translations and commentaries:
  • The unruly are those who are way out of line -- stubborn, rebellious, idle, disorderly, dissolute, slackers, not even trying to live any kind of Christian life. They need tough talk -- warning, scolding, reproving, correcting, sternly getting on their case.
  • The fainthearted (KJV says "feebleminded"!) are those who are of a broken and afflicted spirit -- timid, fearful, trembling, melancholy. They need gentle but firm talk -- cheerleading, comforting, consoling, reminding of the Gospel blessings they have received, nudging, prodding, hugging (verbal and actual).
  • The weak are those who are trying, but aren't very good at living obediently -- stumbling often, getting things wrong, perhaps immature or ignorant like a baby learning to walk. They need support, instruction, someone to come alongside, a steadying hand, extra attention.
And to be patient toward all we need to understand that the various types of yelling work (with the Spirit's enablement, of course), but not necessarily instantaneously. The unruly don't get as much time to shape up as the others do, but it's still a good idea to move slowly toward more extreme and severe disciplinary measures. For the fainthearted and weak, the yelling will work through the cumulative effect of daily encouragement (Hebrews 3:13).
The tricky part, of course, is discerning what category someone (perhaps even oneself) is in. You don't want to err on the side of heavyhandedness la "The beatings will continue until morale improves." God doesn't break bruised reeds or snuff out smoldering wicks. He binds, bandages, breathes on, builds up, blesses. Nor do you want to be too timid about giving a firm rebuke when one is needed. It isn't grace to pat a grievous sinner on the head and say it's no big deal.

Some things to consider when weighing your approach: How much authority do you have? How close are you to the person in question? How big is the beam in your own eye? Is your attitude genuinely loving, or are you just venting? Are you being courageous or are you being a bully? Are you being gracious or are you being a people-pleaser? What is your overall pattern of applying this verse...do you find yourself too often the heavy, too often the softy, or fairly well balanced? If you find yourself in over your head, whose help will you seek? What Scripture can you bring to bear on the situation? Have you prayed about it, or are you flying solo? Are you in it for the long haul of encouragement (Hebrews 3:13 again), or are you only willing to take a pot shot of criticism?

Those are all questions about yourself; here are some about the other person: How serious is the issue in question? How clear is the issue in question? Does the other person show signs of genuine humility, genuine sorrow for his sin and genuine repentance -- not just in this instance, but as a life pattern? Is this a one-shot sin, or a pattern of sin? Is there a real weakness involved, or just whining? Does he believe the gospel for both eternal salvation and everyday sustenance?

Of course there's not always time to do a thorough inventory every time the need arises to speak words of counsel, comfort, correction or cheer, but it's wise to consider how well you love and what kind of love your brethren need.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 4/12/2007 07:38:00 PM • Permalink

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