Sunday, November 18, 2012

1st Clement 56 - Pray for the fallen

When difficulties and even division arise in the church, our first response should be to pray for all involved that they would return from their sins and be rejoined to the will of God.
"Let us then also pray for those who have fallen into any sin, that meekness and humility may be given to them, so that they may submit, not unto us, but to the will of God. For in this way they shall secure a fruitful and perfect remembrance from us, with sympathy for them, both in our prayers to God, and our mention of them to the saints." (1 Clement 56)
Our prayers should not be that they would agree with us or join us in our opinions, but that they would submit to the will of God. The labor of our prayers should not be to conform people to our will but to God's will; our will will always be earthly while God's will is always "that which is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2) What we think and want people to do is of little consequence. However, what is important is the will of God for their lives.

Clement also reminds us that our esteem of people should be based upon their character, their meekness, humility, and readiness to repent, rather than upon their exploits. There are many might men and women who have accomplished great things, some even in the name of the Lord, but our remembrance should be drawn to those who through humility and meekness devote themselves to the will of God. In our prayers and conversations with others, we should remember those who chose righteousness over their own selfish wants and needs. Gossip is not gossip when we use it to share and repeat the good that others have done and the righteousness they posses in their souls.

One of the tools God uses to turn us from sin and to restore us to His will is correction and admonishment.
"Let us receive correction, beloved, on account of which no one should feel displeased. Those exhortations by which we admonish one another are both good [in themselves] and highly profitable, for they tend to unite us to the will of God." (1 Clement 56)
We must remain humble enough to receive admonishment and correction, even when it is delivered though a brother or sister. Not only do our prayers have affect, but so does our admonitions. We must be willing to receive the admonitions of others, for these will protect us from falling away. Clement reminds us.
"Ye see, beloved, that protection is afforded to those that are chastened of the Lord; for since God is good, He corrects us, that we may be admonished by His holy chastisement." (1 Clement 56)
We must receive all correction as coming from the Lord, even when he chooses to use human intermediaries to deliver that correction. Solomon reminds us, "Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser, Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning." (Proverbs 9:9) We should all learn to be wise men and women and, in doing so, protect ourselves from the temptations of sin.

David Robison

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