Preacher's Blog

Preacher's Blog

“Why Sore Toes Are So Important”

Categories: Christian Living, Encouragement, Joshuah Ellis, Theology

This past weekend, my mom and sister came for a visit, and during the course of that visit, my sister and I had a great conversation about the importance of being challenged and the painful element of growth in general. Granted, it was a short discussion as it happened in the car on the way to get something to drink, but it has stayed in my head these past few days.

We often speak of the preacher “stepping on our toes” if we found the lesson particularly convicting, and I must say that, as a preacher, this is one of the most encouraging things to hear after a sermon. This isn’t because I want my audience to feel bad or beat up on, but because it lets me know that they are being introspective and hopefully considering some change in their lives based on what the Bible teaches.

Sadly, it is the custom of some to surround themselves with only those who will compliment and congratulate them in everything they do. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with encouragement, but there should also be some conviction added into the mix. The same voice that is so generous with praise should also be forthcoming with correction and guidance that challenges us to do better. The problem, however, is that growth is never painless.

The following are a few reasons why it is so important to have our toes stepped on:

1.  It sharpens you. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is Proverbs 27:17. However, there is no sharpening that takes place if we are not challenged. The iron must change its shape in order to become sharp. It must lose part of itself to be transformed from a raw element into a tool with a higher purpose. Do you allow yourself to be sharpened even if it means you have to change?

2. It yields the fruit of righteousness. In Hebrews 12, the writer talks about the discipline of the Lord and how it yields in us the fruit of righteousness (Hebrews 12:11). One common mistake we make with this passage is that we assume that discipline is punishment for wrongdoing. In reality though, the concept of discipline is more akin to shaping or molding. Sure a father will discipline his child when the child does wrong, but the reason for that is usually to teach, guide and ultimately mold that child. The same thing is true for us. When we are disciplined…by God…through His Word…via someone in our lives, we are molded into that which gets us closer to being worthy of the presence of the Father.

3.  It is better than flattery. Sure, it feels good when someone is willing to overlook our shortcomings and congratulate us on being superb human beings. However, as enjoyable as it is, is it truly helpful? The Bible teaches us that there is great danger in flattery (Proverbs 29:5). Think of it this way, would we appreciate the doctor who refused to point out our ailments because he didn’t want to offend us? Would we value a teacher who marked “A” on everything we turned in regardless of the quality of the work? Then why are we so keen to find people who will not challenge us to be better, even if it means the truth they tell is sometimes painful?

4. It is an act of love. Not tough love. Just love. I don’t make my kids get shots because I want to see them in pain. It’s because I love them. I don’t yell their names, as they are about to touch a hot surface, to hurt their feelings. I do it to protect them. We have got to stop assuming that speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) means a soft tone of voice and a smile. Correction. Is. Love. As long as it is done in the best interest of the people involved. Don’t be the fool and hate being corrected (Proverbs 12:1). See it for what it is, regardless of how uncomfortable it may be. After all, what kind of person would risk hurting your feelings to help save your soul? The kind you want in your life! “Better is open rebuke than hidden love” (Proverbs 27:5).

Do you want to grow? Then you need to be ready to hurt. Consider your surroundings and ask yourself if you despise correction or appreciate it. Still mad at someone for pointing out the truth to you? Get over it and reconcile the relationship because those are the kinds of people you need in your life. He might not have “said” it right, but that doesn’t mean it was not an act of love.


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