Permission needed to ask hard questions

April 23, 2010

I was sitting in a restaurant with my wife, enjoying the meal and the company. I glanced at the table next to me and saw a man who was animated in conversation with a woman. He seemed to be very confident and poised. I was distracted, though, by his left sideburn because there was a glob of shaving cream on it. I did a double-take and stared at it for a second to make sure that’s what it was. It was obvious to me from six to eight feet away, so I knew it was even more obvious to his dinner companion. I turned back to my wife and we went on with our meal. When we left 30 minutes later, he was still going on about something, and the shaving cream was still there. I wondered, “Will she ever say something to him about that? If not, when will he find out, and how will he feel?” David says in Psalm 141:5, “Let the righteous strike me; it shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; it shall be as excellent oil; let my head not refuse it.” Solomon said, “It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise than for a man to hear the song of fools.”
Wait a minute. Does that mean it is better to go to home group on Wednesday night than to sit at home and watch “American Idol?” Well, yes. The man who grows strong in his faith puts himself in a position to do just that. The three primary means by which spiritual growth takes place are the Word, the Spirit, and the Church. I can honestly say that the greatest changes in my life have come through being in close relationship with other believers in the church, in home group, in men’s accountability groups, in worship services, on men’s retreats.
I have brothers who will say to me: “Hey, watch your face.” Or, “Hey, you’re getting upset about something that’s not worth getting upset over. Let it go.” I need that. Paul Tripp said, “My own self-perception is as accurate as a carnival mirror. If I am going to see myself clearly, I need you to hold the mirror of God’s Word in front of me.” Then he referenced Hebrews 3:12-13, “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God, but exhort one another daily, while it is still called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” There it is! The man who delights in the commandments of God will absolutely seek correction from his brothers. He will learn not to be offended when a brother corrects him and will put himself in a place where that can happen regularly. One of the things the elders and deacons at Antioch do once a month is pair off and ask each other questions like this: “How’s your personal devotions? How about family time? Have you been with a woman this month that would be viewed in any way as compromising? Have any of your financial dealings been done with anything less than absolute integrity?” And so on. C.J. Mahaney says we men ask our wives and friends, “Do I confess my sins consistently? Do I confess specific instances of sin and not just general categories? Do others find it hard or easy to correct me? Do others know the areas of temptation in my life at present?”
Give someone permission to ask you the hard questions. You have much more than your image to lose.