Yesterday’s blog was about choosing to have an unoffendable heart, even when others do things that are meant to harm us. Some would describe that as developing tougher skin. As I began to write this follow-on blog, I realized that it’s not tougher skin, but softer skin – skin that is so conformed to the image of Christ that we ooze His passions and His compassion. Christ’s Number 1 desire is that people come to know Him – that each person accept Him as their Savior. Paul shared Christ’s passion and he rejoiced even when others preached the gospel for the purpose of stirring up trouble that would result in him being treated more harshly in prison. It’s a hard thing to rejoice when others are purposefully trying to harm you. In one sense, Paul’s skin was tough enough to let those assaults roll off him. But in a greater sense, his skin was softened with compassion for even those who assaulted him, wanting to see the Gospel proclaimed to all.

Well, that was yesterday. Today I came to this verse:

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
but he who hates correction is stupid.

Proverbs 12:1

As I started writing this blog, the phrase that was rolling around in my head was that we need to develop a “tougher skin.” It seems to me that few people accept discipline well these days. It seems that the slightest word of correction brings offense, and in many cases causes people to leave their church and often not find another one. The end result is that the Body of Christ is harmed in a number of ways.

  • Both the person giving correction and the person receiving it are often hurt deeply. The closer the relationship they enjoyed, the deeper the pain.
  • The larger Body of Christ is harmed as those around the people involved grieve and are now in the situation of having friends who are at odds with each other.
  • The larger Body of Christ is also harmed as those not yet a part of the Body watch and walk away discouraged from ever joining themselves from such a group.

Sometimes this leads people to no longer give loving discipline. The results of this are equally devastating. Children who are never disciplined become spoiled and unruly. They develop an attitude of superiority. They grow up believing they can do whatever they want whenever they want, unconcerned about the effect their actions may have on others. Adult “children” are no different.

As I said, my first thought was that “we need to develop tougher skin” so that we are not offended at the slightest correction. We ought to welcome discipline, even seek it out if it helps us to become more like Christ. We ought to talk it out and then take it back to our prayer closets and ask God to reveal the truth in it. If we are the one being disciplined, we probably need to ask an objective brother or sister to pray with us and provide objective counseling based on God’s Word, because we may be too emotionally caught up in the situation and not able to hear God through our emotions.

It was as I sat down to write that I realized it’s not a tougher skin that we need, it’s a softer skin that can be more easily molded into the image of Christ. The attitude required to have tougher skin doesn’t yield itself to being reshaped by the working of Christ in our lives – because that’s what the correction and even the true offenses are – Christ, working in us to mold and shape us into the image of Christ.

Can we agree to have an unoffendable heart and a soft skin? Can we agree to rejoice in offenses and discipline that further the cause of Christ? Can we agree to allow Christ to have His way with us, putting us into situations that require us to humbly be molded into His image so that others see Him through us? Not an easy thing we’re called to, this Christ-likeness. But the payoff is high – seeing the Gospel preached (in word and deed) throughout our world.

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