Most of us are familiar with Jesus’ words to the seven churches from Revelation 2-3. They are so precious to us because of their commending praise and honest correction! In these couple of chapters, Jesus critiques seven churches which were actual churches in apostle John’s day (the author of Revelation). What is interesting about these churches and the critiques they received, is that they represent so well the various churches and conditions that are seen in all generations.
But what has stood out to me from these letters to the churches recently is not what the churches may represent for our age or even the specific content. What stood out is the method in which Christ addressed the issues each church was facing. For example, to the church of Ephesus, He writes,
“I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love....”
Here, I think we can learn a highly valuable lesson from Jesus in the order and structure of His approach to Ephesus and a few other churches by how He gives a commendation, when He can, before He gives the rebuking correction. Every good leader and teacher and parent should take note of this.
One of the best ways to build someone up and help set them on the path to flourishing is to start out with positive reinforcement (not to be confused with the self-esteem movement that ignores sinful behavior). Positive attitudes and work ethic build off such praise and commendation and makes the correction easier to accept to the individual receiving it. To constantly ignore what is good and praiseworthy, while addressing only what needs improved, can lead to exasperation with its negativism, discouragement, and frustration – especially in our kids. That creates a home nobody wants to be come home too!
As a personal assignment this week, seek to give more praise and encouragement and see what happens! Try commending before correcting!
In Christ with you,
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