Preparing for Heaven

Building the Eternal Phase of Your Life

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Many Togethers relate to repairing some damage from the world or sin that has already happened. This Together to warn and admonish one another has to do with keeping harmful things from happening to other Christians, especially those in our Christian Inner Circles.
Simply put, we are to watch each other’s lives to warn one another of potential danger and admonish one another toward diligent and stubborn resistance to evil.

We all know what it means to warn someone. Admonish might need some clarification. defines“admonish” as “to caution, advise, or counsel against something;
to reprove or scold, especially in a mild and good-willed manner; and/or to urge to a duty; remind”.

We must observe one another’s lives closely to see any danger that might come. This is best done with those we know well. Those in our Christian Inner Circles are best able to spot those things capable of weakening or destroying our faith that we might not see coming.

We certainly do this with children. To keep them from running into the street in front of traffic, we warn and admonish. We say before we get to the corner where we will cross the street, “Crossing streets is very dangerous.” That is warning. Then when we say, “Remember not to step off of the sidewalk until I say to go,” we are admonishing.

As books on camping can explain the dangers of the outdoors, sermons, Bible study, and Christian books can warn and admonish in a similar way. But hikers and campers still occasionally need to point out to one another a slippery rock to avoid and other potential dangers. Likewise, Christian friends, Christian family members and Christian spouses need to warn and admonish one another as they go through life. It is in these relationships during normal life that dangers can be spotted or anticipated and require warning or admonishment.

Admonishing and warning is what prevents the necessity of restoring one another’s faith later, which is another Together. However, we may resist anticipating the evils that might attack those we are close to because we just want to enjoy the relationship. Yet, if someone we care about is hurt by evil, we will feel terrible if we have avoided warning and admonishing just because we wanted to be comfortable. Therefore, we must make a deliberate priority to watch out for one another, and when we see a situation that might turn dangerous, we warn and admonish.
Humility is called for in warning and admonishing another. This is not an instruction to be controlling or harsh. Warning and admonishing is not to be so frequent or so forceful as to become over-protecting or nagging. Love, as gentle as can be to get our warning and admonishing heard, is to be our guide.

We each should identify those Christians we are close to and with whom we have frequent contact.

Then, we should show interest in all that is going on in their lives. Sometimes we have to explain that we are asking about the important things going on in their lives because God has asked us to watch each other’s backs. Anyone who wants to be more private can gently be warned how dangerous that is. First, it is dangerous to ignore God’s desire to watch out for him or her through other Christians in their friendships, families, and marriages. Second, it is dangerous because he or she will face many difficult and hurtful situations that could have been prevented by a “heads-up” from those in their Christian Inner Circle who could watch to protect.

With those Christians we know more than superficially, we can anticipate where they are vulnerable. Then, imagining that we are Satan out to hurt them, we can predict with some accuracy where trouble for them might come from. Unfortunately, we can still think like the devil. The old self is still alive in us. It is possible to think of how, if we were Satan, we might derail the faith and the life of those we know well.

And, that is just what we need to do! We must recognize Satan’s schemes against those we love most. If we were the evil one, what would we do to each of those in our Christian Inner Circle? Satan sure knows their weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Are we, then, going to remain ignorant of them? We cannot delegate this to the larger church. How on earth would a church, its pastor or members, know these people we are so close with well enough to know how Satan might attack? But, in our closer Christian relationships, we can and should be able to guess at what the devil is planning.

We can all grow in our ability to watch out for one another in the way of warning against going against God’s will and to caution one another against things that will bring a weakening or destruction of faith or that might damage life.

And, not only should we want to warn and admonish others, but we should be desperate to have others warn and admonish us. What is at stake is our life in Christ! If we are open to warnings and admonitions, and if we thank those who provide such, we will honor God and cherish faith together with those in our Christian Inner Circles. The Apostle Paul told the Thessalonian church, “Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.” That’s 1 Thess 5:12-13.

The aim, when at all possible, is to warn and admonish early before a Christian is too involved to get out of a situation that might damage her or his life and faith.

By warning and admonishing, we sharpen our skills at noticing evil in its very many forms. Although this skill will not be needed in heaven where there is no evil, it will yield a higher quality of joy in life there to the degree a Christian focused on sin before death and is able to notice the absence of it in heaven.

To understand this concept, contrast an ordinary person and an auto insurance adjuster, both of whom purchase an older car in excellent condition. The insurance adjuster, having seen so many different similar cars damaged in one way or another, appreciates the good condition of his new purchase more than the other person. He senses the absence of dented fenders, scratches, poor wheel alignment, etc. Both will appreciate their car, both will be happy with it, but the insurance adjuster will have a higher appreciation of the car because he will more often appreciate the absence of damage.

During a ten-year close friendship, how much evil lurking to harm a friend could be noticed? Even if a suspected evil threat does not come about and we do not need to warn and admonish, just being on the lookout will make us more aware of evil things. During just one year, we are likely to suspect many attacks on those we care about, things like slander, the teachings of atheism, greed, drug addiction in a relative, discouragement from an unexpected emergency expense, a serious medical issue, and loss of a job. Now multiply those issues by ten years. Then imagine a keener awareness of each of their absences in heaven once we get there.

That awareness is something to be desired. Throughout heaven, the quality of life can be higher the more we can notice evil now and its absence then.

Furthermore, there will be additional joy for the person who warned and admonished before death. Just as a parent is extremely happy when a child is finally living a great life, each of us will be thrilled to see those we warned away from danger before death, now living a higher quality of life in heaven. Therefore, we want to be active in watching the backs of everyone in our Christian Inner Circles so that in heaven we can have increased joy that they do not need us to warn them of evil, that we do not need to remind them how to deal with evil, and that they are completely free of any fears of evil they had before death.

There are other Togethers that will increase our awareness of evil. The value of this particular Together of warning and admonishing is that we are not limited to just noticing actual evil. By anticipating evils others might have to face, we become aware of more evil, not just those that are obvious because they are already present.

The list of evils we are quite aware of at the end of our life will translate into the list of evils we will notice absent in heaven. We want to prepare to sense the absence of evil in heaven as much as we can. So, let’s get down to the business of watching one another’s backs more diligently.

Even though we should identify how the devil and other evils of life might attack those we care about, we do not need to warn about them until they show up, except in the case that they are so likely dangerous that more advance warning is necessary. Imagine that someone in your Christian Inner Circle makes a new acquaintance and appears to be working on making it a deeper friendship. If you know of that the new person has a tendency to gossip and your friend or relative has little to hide, warning can be delayed. The danger is there, but not so potentially harmful. However, if you know that person to be someone who makes friends to take advantage of people, like to sell them something or borrow a lot of things and not return them, warning and admonishing should be done immediately. Here, danger or hurtfulness is imminent and that someone in your Christian Inner Circle might decide to back off from that relationship.
What a relief it will be in heaven to not have to look over our shoulders for danger of any kind. It will also be nice to not have to watch our friends’ and love ones’ backs. Retired from warning and admonishing as well as being warned or admonished will be quite welcome. The more evil we are conscious of that we ourselves do not have to worry about, the greater will be our appreciation of heaven. We prepare for this greater joy in heaven by warning and admonishing now.

We have to have come face-to-face with evil before death to be acutely aware of its absence in heaven when we get there. Fortunately, we will not have had to deal with most kinds of evil in our own lives. However, for example, not having been betrayed ourselves before death, but having warned a friend about betrayal, we will notice its absence in heaven and experience joy. If we have not experienced betrayal either actually or vicariously in the sinful culture of pre-death, then we cannot be very aware of its absence in heaven. We will have one less thing to be thankful for in heaven and one less thing for which to praise God.

Those of us who got down to the business of watching out for others and warning and admonishing them as necessary will have many specific moments of joy every time something catches our attention and we realize that a certain evil is absent.

Then there is the effect on our relationship with God. Might it be that God will not want to be so often with those citizens of heaven who did not care enough about His people back on earth to warn and admonish them?

Christians are commanded by God to warn one another of danger and to admonish one another toward greater strength. In war the enemy can shoot from any side. Soldiers watch each other’s flanks and warn one another of approaching danger. No single soldier can keep watch in every direction, and trouble comes from many angles.
Warning and admonishing does not need to be “in-your-face” confrontation or uncomfortable. Because it should usually be done by close friends or family members, warning and admonishing can almost always be done little-by-little over time in a friendly, loving fashion.
Warning should be very different from judging. The tone of voice makes a big difference. Warning does not so much say, “You are wrong!”, as “I think it would be unwise in light of Scripture” or “I’m afraid for you if you take that approach.”

There is nothing that matches responsible, loving friends, family members or spouses who watch out for your overall welfare when you are not looking. Warning and admonishing will be delivered in a timely fashion with love by someone important who has earned the right to be listened to.

So, let’s imagine that you notice a Christian friend at work who is married but flirting more than once with another woman at work. This friend is not one to easily consider that he does anything wrong. So, you off-handedly say as you pass by him when no one else is around, “You keep flirting with Sue and you might end up having feelings for her that would hurt your family.” You will have warned and admonished him as taught in Scripture. Yet, keep in mind that the less often you do something like this, the more powerful it will be when you do.

Warning and admonishing by close Christian friends or family members or spouse is more powerful than the same from someone who only has a casual relationship. Expression of genuine fear for the other person cannot be easily discounted. An example of this would be saying, “I am really afraid that if you buy that expensive car you will put your family in jeopardy if any kind of emergency comes up.” Note that in these close, valued relationships consequences can be spelled out in much more detail.

Let’s determine to not just enjoy our close Christian friends and relatives. Let watch out for them carefully and warn and admonish them in very loving ways when necessary.