Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Fool’s Hope

Wisdom shouts in the street, she lifts her voice in the square; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out:
“How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing & fools hate knowledge?  
Turn to my reproof!
Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you.  

But he who listens to me shall live securely & will be at ease from the dread of evil.”
(Proverbs 1:20–23; 33)

Our culture is built on centuries of capitalism.  Capitalism is good for the world as a whole and for each nation that embraces it, for it provides opportunity and abundant rewards for the best and brightest.  Those who are even close to average in most respects can do very well just by hard work, and if you’re more clever or talented … then even an average amount of work will help you succeed materially.  And when that happens, “the rising tide floats all boats,” the saying is true. 

But capitalism can be cruel, too.  Those who have limitations must work extra hard to overcome them.  Our limiters can be fair or unfair … but they are real.  Physically or mentally disabled people, sick, lame, children and old folks are all limited.  So are minorities, short people and ugly people … each of whom has to work harder to get the same outcome. 

In the USA, our form of capitalism is based on the idea that we are also mostly “Christian.”  And so while we work hard, we also are instructed again and again to love and be charitable.  We leave the edges of our fields un-harvested for the poor, we “tithe” as a way to support those who serve God full time, and we take care of our elders.  These are lessons from the Hebrew Scriptures, but our Lord reinforced those teachings by explaining that God’s command to “love your neighbor as yourself” means being the Good Samaritan (Luke 10.25-37). He asks us to “go the extra mile,” “give our cloak,” and even wash one another’s feet. 

And Jesus taught us to do these things, even to our enemies
He taught us to do them in private, so we don’t get glory for ourselves, but for God. 
Jesus also taught us to give based on need alone – not whether or not the recipient “deserves” it. 

That’s grace: “Unmerited favor” - forgiveness as love - it’s the “Good News,” or “Gospel” 

The good news is that none of us gets what we deserve, and out of recognition of this fact, we give to others just as Jesus set Himself as an example. 
Proverbs 18.2

The Good News

This article is about “the other side” of the Proverb about fools.  It’s the part where instead of laughing at us (as we deserve), Grandma Wisdom teaches us and gives us security and peace.  And that’s the “good news” for fools. 

The good news (or gospel) is different for different folks.  Since we are all sinners, the best part of the gospel is that we will not have to die the second death.  But there’s more to the gospel than heaven – there’s also promise for us on earth! 

They asked,
“Who can be saved?”  
Jesus responded,
“The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”
Peter said,
“Behold, we have left our own and followed you.”
And He said to them,
“Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life.”
(Luke 18:26–30)

Who can be rescued?  None of us can rescue ourselves, but God can do anything. 
Who deserves to be rescued?  None of us

And even though our greatest hope is in the life to come, Jesus said that one may even expect to “receive many times as much at this time.”  THAT is good news! 

It’s good news for disabled people, weak people, and stupid people because we have a Lord who is much more than merely a Lord (Boss or Master), he is also our savior, our rescuer, our care-giver. 

But it’s also good news for those of us who behave foolishly, who sin, and who deserve all the misery that comes our way: the good news is that we’re not getting what we deserve. 

I’m the fool who hasn't listened to G’ma Wisdom sometimes – but instead of hearing her laugh at me, I have another day to listen to her and try again.  That’s great news for me. 

I’m the prodigal who wandered away from God and didn't live responsibly and obediently like my older brother – the good news is that Father will welcome me home!  (Although my big brother is none too pleased, because he knows I don’t deserve another chance)

I’m the lazy man who wasted time. 
I’m the wasteful man who spent too much on myself.
I’m the fool who saved for retirement (Luke 12.15-21)
I’m the coward who buried his talent. 
I’m the self-righteous man who looked down on sinners

The good news is that even sinners, even fools, even lazy, condescending, wasteful, disobedient rotten people – get another chance!! 

If you woke up this morning and are reading this, you have another chance.  You’re not dead, and you’re not standing before the King on Judgment Day.  You can repent (change), and do better! 

Today God gives us another chance to be more forgiving
Today God gives us another chance to love more, give more, care more, work harder …
Today we have another chance. 
What will you do with it?

The fool’s hope

The fool’s hope is that if we’ll finally listen to Wisdom, she will teach us and we can live securely, at ease, and without fear:
“Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you.  
But he who listens to me shall live securely & will be at ease from the dread of evil.”

The hope of the disobedient is that today you get another chance to listen, trust and obey – and then the storms of life will not destroy you (Matthew 7.24-25).

The hope of the proud is that you have another chance to humble yourselves and receive God’s blessings:

“…clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you….
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
(1 Peter 5:5–10)

Some of us have been “blind, short-sighted, and neglectful.  We also can repent and renew our efforts to get back into the Lord’s Way, and so even we can have hope:

Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
(2 Peter 1:10–11)
[I testify that Peter’s words are true.  I have practiced those things and not stumbled.  I've also let them slip, and fallen on my face.  Thanks be to God for another day to try again!]

The sinner’s hope is that we can come back to the Good Shepherd, and that He will protect us from our enemies, feed us and love us and we need not fear even death. 

Because of God, I have another day and another chance

  • Because of God, I have no wants – I’m content 
  • Because of God, I feel constantly protected …
  • Because of God, I’m never stressed …
  • Because of God, I’m never alone …
  • Because of God, I’m never afraid … even facing death itself       (Psalm 23)

Most of us are fools, all of us are sinners, and we reap what we sow.  But it’s not over, yet – we still have a chance!  Every day is a day to change – to “repent” as it’s called in the Scriptures.  Get on your knees and ask God to wash you clean again, not because you deserve it, but because God WANTS you to.  And then start over and try again to do better. 

“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that everyone everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
(Acts 17:30–31)

Today isn't just a day.  Today is another chance.  Take it. 

The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.
Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way:
What sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?
(2 Peter 3:9–11)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Deadly Disease

“The waywardness of the naïve will kill them, & the complacency of fools will destroy them.”
(Proverbs 1:32)

The verse above is part of a troubling passage.  In Proverbs 1:20-33 (pasted at the bottom of this article), the writer personifies wisdom as a woman.  The wisest woman I’ve ever known was my dad’s mother, so I always picture this speech as being spoken by “Grandmother Wisdom.”  But it doesn’t really fit with things she might say, and it certainly doesn’t sound like something God would say, so it really bothers me. 

Grandmother Wisdom here says that she has shouted and cried out and desperately tried to get people to listen to her, but they refuse.  And of course when people don’t listen to Wisdom, they behave foolishly.  Foolish behavior means we live a fool’s life and reap a fool’s reward.  Disaster comes, and the fool cannot survive it.  The fool is destroyed by the storms of life, just as Jesus repeated at the end of the SOM (Matthew 7.24-27), when the foolish man’s house was crushed. 

But then G’ma Wisdom says something shocking: when your calamity comes, she’s going to laugh at you. 
When you beg for help, she will refuse. 
When you desperately seek her out, she’ll hide from you.
Why?  Because you didn’t listen to her in the first place.   

It doesn’t sound like something from the bible, even, does it?  When does God ever say that He will laugh at us when we fail, or make fun of us when we’re drowning in our own cesspool?   

The truth is, it’s exactly like the rest of scripture.  We just don’t listen to that much.  The bible is loaded with such warnings, but they don’t preach well.  They aren’t popular, so preachers and teachers don’t spend much time on this part. 

And even if you don’t recognize it from scripture, you must admit that it certainly sounds like the world in which we live.  Maybe God will rescue us for eternal salvation, but meanwhile we live in a world where we reap what we sow.  We reap the consequences of our own actions, whether wise or foolish. 

Consider these realities:
  • Fat people are fat because they eat too much. 
  • Weak people are weak because they don’t exercise.
  • Rich people are rich because they saved instead of spending or giving.
  • Materialistic people shop and have stuff & debt. 
  • People-pleasers grovel, players play and gullible people believe.

Of course there are exceptions.  Sometimes materialistic people are rich because they won the lottery or their parents were rich, and sometimes hard-working, frugal people are poor.  But generally speaking, we harvest the fruit of our own behavior in this life. 

The questions I asked last time were:
  1. Are you helping people to be better, stronger, and more loving - or do you add temptation to their lives, and so contribute to their downfall?  
  2. Are your “friends” helping you do the hard thing, or putting you on a pathway to reap a harvest of yuck? 

Much of my life my “friends,” family and church have been unhelpful.  Of course, I can’t blame them for my failures.  I’m not eating the fruit of their trees, but my own.  And that’s what this passage is about.  It’s a wake-up call to people like me.

Wisdom says that we should listen to her, and her alone.  If we listen to her, we may “live securely and be at ease from the dread of evil.”  And this is true of every story in scripture.  Samson, David, Peter, Saul, Joseph … they all knew the voice of Wisdom.  When they heeded her instructions, they were blessed.  When they refused her counsel, they ate some rotten fruit.

Homework & Sharing

Let’s try something different this week

Focus on the verse quoted at the top of this article (verse 32).  If we just take the line: “the waywardness of the naïve will kill them,” and think of it as a disease, what may be learn?  If you heard on the news that drinking city water will kill certain people, you’d pay attention, right?  So what is the killer here?  It’s “waywardness.” 

So … what is “waywardness”? 

Check out Yahweh’s word to Israel:
“Have you not done this to yourself by your forsaking Yahweh (your God) when He led you in the way?
“Your own wickedness will correct you, & your apostasies will reprove you….  See that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake Yahweh (your God) & the dread of Me is not in you,” declares Yahweh, Lord hosts.
(Jeremiah 2:17–19, excerpts)

In that passage, the Hebrew word translated “apostasies” is the same as our word “waywardness.”  In the context of Jeremiah, it’s God using the prophet to warn Judah that they are about to be destroyed and taken away to Babylon because they have drifted from Yahweh, the God who brought them out of Egypt and has loved them and cared for them.  And as you can see, it’s just like the proverb: they are reaping what they’ve sown. 

The same term seems also to be used in Jeremiah 3.6,8,11 & 14, and in Hosea 11.7. 

challenge to you:
A few of you reading this can do a little work on the Hebrew word and tell us more about it.  Please do this, and put it here in the comments.  If you’re studying Greek, then check out how the LXX handles it.  And use this to add to the blog this week.  Greek and Hebrew are fine tools, and can impress people, but here’s an opportunity to use those skills to help.  Words tell stories.  In this case, it’s the story of death – this “waywardness” is deadly.  Let’s figure out how to help ourselves and those who will listen to G’ma Wisdom to combat foolishness, and its vile fruit.

If you’re not a language scholar, then at least look up the other verses, and see if you can come to understand this idea so well that you can use it to make a difference in your own life – AND – to explain it to others by sharing here. 

For all of us: spend some time in prayer and thought on this.  How do we become “wayward”?  What happens in our real, everyday lives that lures us away from listening to God or G’ma Wisdom?  What (in plain language) should we DO or NOT DO to avoid this killer?  

Eternally Grateful

Lester Holt (a Christian anchorman for NBC) this morning reported an air disaster that had some survivors – people who were saved by the heroism of others.  He said the survivors would be “eternally grateful” to their rescuers.  It caught my attention because I suspect “eternal” gratitude is really reserved for those who save souls.  Saving a life, comforting a friend, curing a disease, feeding the hungry, etc. – these are good things.  But can they be compared to saving a soul from eternal death?  After all, if we save a physical life, we’re only delaying the inevitable.  I suppose the band on the Titanic made people feel good, too.  At least for a little while, before they sank into dark, freezing depths.

Spiritual death is real, and spiritual death is forever.  We all deserve this death.  Only grace will spare us.  But must we still live like fools, and refuse to listen to wisdom’s cry and warnings?  Don’t you want to survive the storms of life, and live securely and free from dread?

Learn to apply the teachings of Sister Wisdom.  Learn to make them real in your own life, and in the lives of anyone who will listen to you (or her), and you may very well receive “eternal” gratitude. 

Let’s not be wayward.  Let’s stay on the right pathway – the narrow way.  And let’s help bring others with us. 

Wisdom shouts in the street, she lifts her voice in the square;
At the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings:

“How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded? And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing & fools hate knowledge?  
Turn to my reproof!
Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you.  

Because I called and you refused,
I stretched out my hand and no one paid attention; & you neglected all my counsel & did not want my reproof:
I will also laugh at your calamity;
I will mock    …when your dread comes,
…when your dread comes like a storm & your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
…when distress and anguish come upon you.

Then they will call on me, but I will not answer;
They will seek me diligently but they will not find me,

Because they hated knowledge & did not choose the fear of Yahweh.
They would not accept my counsel, they spurned all my reproof.

So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way & be satiated with their own devices. 

For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, & the complacency of fools will destroy them.

But he who listens to me shall live securely & will be at ease from the dread of evil.”
(Proverbs 1:20–33)

I pray that you all will live securely and be at ease from the dread of evil. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Friends Family Church You God

“You can now watch pirated movies on Google Chromecast”

That was the headline of a “business news” article I saw this week.  Yes, it’s getting easier and easier to steal - and even news outlets are letting us all know where we can participate. 

Similarly, I was approached recently by a guy who offered me free Pandora.  I explained that I subscribe, and then he insisted that I drop my subscription and sign on using his password.  He proudly explained that he had several friends and family members who were using his one password to gain access.  When I explained to him that I don’t steal, he said it’s not really stealing, and then sent me the info in email, anyway.  What a donkey 

Have you ever had such ‘opportunities’? 
Of course – we all have. 

And I don’t know about you, but I have enough temptations in my life, thank you – I don’t need any extras piled on by fools like this talking asp.

Today’s article is a bit long, but it’s important.  And I pray that the Lord will use me to confront you with two challenges:
  • Do you have friends and/or family who add to your temptations?
  • Do YOU ever tempt others? 

This world feels (to me) like one giant temptation machine.  I love so many things, and want to do and try everything.  Some things aren't even all that bad, but I want too much of it (like food, rest or recreation).  Sometimes temptation is circumstantial – I want to be gracious and forgiving, but not that person!  I want to be a worker for the Lord, but I only want to serve Him in certain ways. 

A giant wad of temptation, this world seems to be.  Everything bad looks so dang good (to me).

For some folks this isn’t an issue.  They (you?) don’t have much desire to do things – most sins simply don’t appeal to them - and so perhaps their only temptations are judgmentalism, gossip and laziness toward those of us who want to do (or try) many things.  If you’re not tempted to a particular sin, it’s easy to look down on those who are faced with it – and then it’s easy to ignore them/us and let them/us die and go to hell.  After all, we certainly deserve it.

Then as if temptations weren’t enough by themselves, there are people in my life who make my struggles even more difficult than they already are!

People who shove food at me and insist that I’ll love it – even when they know I’m struggling to control my food-worship.  When I first quit smoking, my “friends” (who predicted my failure) would delight in tempting me.  Alcoholics have “friends” who insist that they continue to visit pubs, and those with other desires of the flesh can always find someone willing to exploit them.  Anyone who loves any “sin of the flesh” knows WHY we love it – it’s awesome.  Who needs yet  more temptation from a so-called brother or sister piled on top?  

There are those who offer the delicious taste of rationalizing while cheating on their taxes or dealing dishonestly with an insurance company … because “they deserve it,” or “they’re rip-offs, anyway.”  Or we’re encouraged to be dishonest on resumes, because it’s expected or to tell “business lies,” because everyone knows that happens. 

Another hard one are those people who seem to go out of their way to be aggravating.  Sometimes they enjoy it, and other times they’re so self-absorbed, they don’t even know they’re tempting you to rage.  Temptation to anger at such steaming piles of foolishness is very hard to resist (at least for me), especially when I’ve explained to them my feelings in detail.  Goodness – just writing this is tempting me to anger as I think about it! 

It seems the only way to get a person’s attention these days is to be rude, loud, dishonest, or mean. 


Here’s what I’m hoping you’ll consider with me today:
  • Do you encourage your fellow disciples to be better people, or do you offer them temptations? 
  • Do you rationalize that some sins aren’t really all that bad, and so offer a temptation for a brother or sister to violate his or her conscience? 
  • Do you offer more food to gluttons, or alcohol to drunks or other physical pleasures to those who are struggling to avoid them? 
  • Are you so materialistic that you buy stuff you don’t need, and then show it to others who join you in glorification of the shallowness of this world? 
  • Do you know that gossip is both a sin - and a temptation to another person to sin?

My next question/challenge is much easier to answer, but very hard for action:
Are your friends, family and/or church good for you? 


Most of us want friends who enjoy what we enjoy, and dislike what we dislike.  They overlook our faults or “understand” them or sympathize or in some way “feel our pain.”  Is that in our best interest? 

Maybe we need comrades who will encourage us to do the hard thing.  Someone who will meet us where we are, and then without condescension help us to grow.  Someone who understands how hard some struggles are for us and then helps us overcome, and protects us from further temptation. 

If we’re truly devoted to God, won’t we seek people who can help us get stronger, and avoid those who keep us weak and tempted? 

I don’t need so-called “friends” who make life even harder for me.  I don’t need to be told “it’s ok” when I’m behaving foolishly or sinfully.  And I also don’t need people in my life who imagine they know more than they do – and armed with only good intentions, try to tell me how to live. 

Life is hard enough – who needs extra temptation when you’re already getting kicked around by Satan? 


This is one of, if not the biggest, problems with “churches” these days.  Many of them become collections of people who have decided to insist on particular things and overlook others.  The test for this is simple.  If/when you next attend a church service, secretly make a note of who – and how – you are helped or hurt. 

For instance, most people these days struggle with vanity.  Our culture is obsessed with outward appearance – and this happens even in church!  So make note of how many comments you get on your appearance.  We do it without even thinking: “You look nice,” or “those are cute shoes” or whatever.  The scriptures on this matter are crystal clear, but no church I know of makes any effort in this regard. 

Of course closely tied with our temptations to vanity is our lack of respect for the truth.  We seem to think that as long as we “technically” didn't lie, then a little deception is ok.  “No, you don’t look fat,” is where it begins.  Is that person helped to overcome gluttony and sloth?  No – and why?  Because we’d rather feed their vanity with our own lies than help them actually grow to become a better servant of God.  Remember the SOM how many times Jesus said to forget what people think, and instead work on what God thinks?  How often do you get THAT encouragement at church? 

So consider all your interactions at church in the past and in the future, and then ask yourself if you’re really being helped to get stronger, more generous, wiser and more teleios, or if your “church” itself is working so hard to be “cool” that they are starting to look just like the dark world in which we’re supposed to be a light.  Once your eyes are opened to this, you’ll be shocked at how true Paul’s words are, even today:
“In giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse.”
(1 Corinthians 11:17)


If friends and church are bad, families are often the worst.  We are indoctrinated with the idea that “family comes first,” and that family matters are not optional.  This is so much a part of our thinking that most people don’t even consider it.  Among those who do consider it, hardly anyone will walk away from physical family to serve God more effectively, even in a limited way.  It’s probably easier if you were raised by abusive, non-believing parents; and harder for those whose parents were lovely Christian people, but that’s the nature of sin, isn't it?  Some are harder than others for various people.  One of Satan’s best tools is a well-intentioned family.  Few things in life can render us as spiritually sterile (fruitless) as family. 

Again, remember the words of he who we claim is our Boss, Master or Lord:

“If anyone comes to me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”
(Luke 14:26–27)

“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for my name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life.”
(Matthew 19:29)

Not only did Jesus teach this, but he was no hypocrite:

While He was speaking to the crowds, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. Someone said to Him,
“Behold, your mother and your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to you.”
Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said,
“Who is my mother and who are my brothers?”
And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said,
“Behold My mother and my brothers!
For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
(Matthew 12:46–50)

Let’s talk about you

Now that I’ve picked on your friends, family and church – what about you?  Do you tempt people? 

This is a hard one.  Often we tempt people without realizing it.  Gossip, gluttony, vanity and deception can be so pervasive we “forget” we’re even doing it.  Often times we tempt others unconsciously.  In fact, the way we tempt others, and the way others tempt us are too many to offer up as examples. 

But I’ll toss out a couple for you to hopefully stimulate your self-reflection:
  • Is your self-worth so important to you that you coerce others into complimenting your appearance, or eating your best food dish, or praising your hobbies or fruitless ministry? 
  • Do you seek support in your rationalizations for “small” things? 
  • Do you offer justifications when others do “small” sins - or do you help them grow out of it? 
  • Do you find “clever” workarounds for things that may/may not be a sin? 
  • Are you judgmental, and absent compassion for the failures of others? 

Those are just a few things that make others’ temptations worse.  See if you can think of others.

Think on this and pray about it.  Ask God to highlight the temptations in your life.  Ask Him to help you become hyper-aware of times you tempt others or they tempt you, and spend some time developing your awareness of this thing.  Start on your own, and then ask a fellow disciple to join you, and make it a “game” to spot temptations. 

Once you become aware of them, it will amaze you how much harder life is because we – without thinking – make others’ lives more difficult! 

Finally, Jesus

“Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.”
(Matthew 18:7–9)

In the passage above, we often get confused.  We ask, for example, if I lust, “do I really have to pluck out my eye (Or other body parts) so I can’t see tempting things”?  This common mistake is made because we don’t read the passage carefully.  Note again the part I underlined.  Jesus wasn't talking about physical body parts, but spiritual ones.  It’s about PEOPLE!  Specifically, it’s about disciples.  When a disciple makes you stumble … HE or SHE … is the one who needs to be cut off.  Read it again, and you’ll see it.  Better yet, take time this evening to read ALL of Matthew 18, and see it in context, and you’ll see that the whole chapter is Jesus’ teachings on how brothers and sisters are supposed to treat one another in the church/fellowship. 

Here’s a more concise and direct version of the same teaching from Luke:

He said to his disciples,
“It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble. Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.” 
(Luke 17:1–3)

Again, Jesus is no hypocrite.  He practiced what he preached, and set himself as an example to us:

He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.
And He was stating the matter plainly.

And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.
But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said,
“Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them,
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
(Mark 8:31–35)

Wow – Peter was tempting Jesus to consider the possibility that he might not need to suffer and die on the cross.  At that moment, one of Jesus’ best friends and strongest disciples had actually become a tool of the devil!  And so Jesus rebuked Peter harshly – even calling him “Satan.”  That’s pretty harsh stuff.  It must have really freaked poor Peter.  But then Jesus went on to explain that not only was this necessary for him, but also for anyone who follows Jesus.  Necessary

“If your brother sins, rebuke him” 

Have you ever had someone love you enough to do that for you?  Have YOU ever loved another that much?  Rebuking people who sin is easy for judgmental people.  It’s easy for angry people, frustrated people, and self-righteous people.  But a loving rebuke to/for someone we care about is really, really hard.  It’s also hard to receive a rebuke, but still – giving or receiving a rebuke from love is crazy hard.  We’d much rather tell a brother, “Oh, it’s ok, everyone messes up.” 

As you read in Matthew 18 or Luke 17, you’ll see that these temptations and responses to sin are ALWAYS one disciple trying to help another to be a better servant of God. 
This is never, EVER, something we do to/for those who are not disciples.  They’re lost and need rescuing.  This is entirely about how we should treat each other!  Read what Paul wrote to the Corinth church of Christ:
I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people;
I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world … (for then you would have to go out of the world.
But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindlernot even to eat with such a one.
For what have I to do with judging outsiders?
Do you not judge those who are within the church?
(1 Corinthians 5:9–12)

And it’s never about anger or hatred or disgust – it’s about loving teammates helping each other to get stronger, bolder, more generous, more loving:

He who blesses his friend with a loud voice early in the morning, it will be reckoned a curse to him.
A constant dripping on a day of steady rain & a contentious woman are alike.... 
As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit, & he who cares for his master will be honored.
(Proverbs 27:14–18)

How does “blessing a friend” become “a curse”?  Why is an uncooperative woman so annoying?  Because they are not “iron sharpening iron.”  They aren’t helping each other, they’re tempting others – they are stumbling blocks. 
The “blessing friend” is always there to help you feel good about yourself, but what you need is to improve. 
The aggravating woman tempts us to violence – or at least to unkind thoughts. 
Neither is our partner. 
Neither is helping us to be better servants of God. 
Both are spiritual quicksand that is sucking us down to the eternal fire. 

We disciples are people who have made a simple but difficult pledge: we will sell all we have to buy the pearl of great price (Matthew 13.44-46).  We want to know Christ and the fellowship of his suffering and be conformed to his death, so we can attain resurrection from the dead (Phil 3).

The question was asked by Jesus: “What will a man give in exchange for his soul”?  Every time we make it easier for a disciple to make the sinful choice, we make their walk harder.  Each of us who spends time with those who call themselves disciples but are not – we are endangering our souls and the souls of everyone we influence. 

I know this article is long, and if you've made it this far, congratulations.  But now comes the hard part: put this into practice. 

Start by doing this over the next few weeks.  Consider how often people cheer you on to do the right thing, and rebuke you when you sin.  And not just what they say, but how their presence in your life really produces changes within you.  Is being around them merely fun or pleasant, or do they actually help you to become a better servant of God, increasingly focused only on His kingdom and His righteousness, and always helping you to love your neighbor as yourself? 

Also, consider how you treat others – do you put temptation in their pathways?  Have you been a tempter without even realizing it?  Ask God to reveal these moments to you.  They are hard to see until you go out of your way to eliminate them.  But if you sincerely ask God to show you, He will, and it’ll hurt when you realize that you have been the person Jesus was talking about when he said you’d be better off drowned. 

This life is shorter than you think.  Use each precious moment to help others and associate with only those who help you (or whom you can help).  Our culture makes that a lonely lifestyle, but believe me – it’s far better to face temptation alone than to be joined by a “friend” who enhances temptation.

Like Jesus, we give our lives for others.
Also like Jesus, we give heart, soul, mind and strength to God – first and only.