Back in 2006, my mom bought me a book that had changed the way she saw things, a rare find that she felt was actually biblical 100% of the way through, it was Dr. Dan B. Allender & Dr. Tremper Longman III’s book, Bold Love.
This is a fascinating and intellectually stimulating book on how to love like Jesus Christ did – not passive or nice, but unpredictable, cunning, and sometimes offensive in how it causes a person to come to face with the reality of their depravity – and forces them to look at the evil they do, to feel the pain that is designed to help that person deal with their patterns of diseased sin that is damaging the way they relate to other people.
One of the things I enjoyed about this book when I first read it, is that it confronts a wife’s capacity to sin (and sin greatly) against her husband. So often women are viewed as only being capable of goodness and purity, however, as a woman, I will be the first to tell you that I believe we are capable of severely evil acts against others – I myself, have done and said things I deeply regret. I am constantly on a path of trying to allow God to convict me and show me where I need to change unhealthy patterns, or in how I respond to foolish or evil people. But I’ve often found that women in our society, are often given an out, given an excuse for their depravity, “Oh, he caused you to do (fill in the blank). If he hadn’t pushed you to that point, you wouldn’t have had to do (fill in the blank).” This kind of response is of course, ridiculous, and doesn’t force the woman to deal with the fact that no matter what someone did to provoke her, she is still responsible for her reactions. She is still called to react like Christ, no matter the initial offense or how deeply wrong she feels.
Bold Love covers many topics, but one I truly love is how a foolish person (woman or man) is capable of hating knowledge – hating to face the facts of the depravity of their own heart so much, that they bypass a deeper relationship with God and the chance to become a different person than they were.
When you allow God’s knowledge and truth to shine light on the way you’ve been acting in diseased depravity of your sins, you become changed – and you will NEVER quite be the same again. The knowledge literally transforms you, because all knowledge is connected to God – it comes from God.
The foolish woman or man, hates the knowledge of their sin, and cringes or reacts in a flood of anger at it being called out; whereas a wise person acknowledges the knowledge of their sinful depravity, feels remorse, and works to deal with it, in order to change. A fool takes steps back in spiritual growth, whereas a wise person earnestly tries to allow God to move them forward.
Fools automatically go into assault/attack mode when faced with the reality of their sinful heart or actions. It is easy to spot because they easily fall into rude or abusive humor, slinging insults, and doubling down on insisting people know “their side” of what happened.
Unless they are at what Dr. Allender calls a “vulnerable point” of remorse, or forced to feel “the piercing exposure of shame,” a fool’s hope for redemption is honestly slim. It is second nature for them to feel an increased, ungodly rage when a person points out their failures (past or present), and they are almost incapable of achieving real, lasting change from their old behavior. Lasting change requires an admittance that what they were (or are) behaving like, is wrong. The best tactic to forcing a fool to see their own actions is exposure that causes them shame.
“Expose with a mood that is matter-of-fact, strong, and benevolent. Such a mood is like passing a red cape before an enraged bull; it will incite and intensify the fury. When we “set up” the fool for further exposure, as the Lord did with the rich young ruler and the woman at the well, we set ourselves up for attack. We need to be prepared to move out of the way with a light step. This is the most difficult principle to describe because it requires such freedom of heart to operate with spontaneity, humor, and power.”
Exposure must be designed to leave the fool ultimately alone, so that they can face God with the shame of their reaction. A foolish man or woman will never repent unless they feel pain. And genuine pain only comes from truly acknowledging the depravity of their actions, but that pain produces beauty.
The authors have many more tenants for setting up a fool, for having boundaries and consequences set in place, all so that the foolish person is forced to deal with their own foolish behavior. Oftentimes, your reaction must be the opposite of what they would expect, because in many ways, our own reactions enable the sinful behavior of the fools we have to deal with. By surprising them with unexpected behavior or an unanticipated reaction they thought they’d get from us, we violate a sense of their being all-knowing or in control.
“Consequences must have a bite.” In dealing with a foolish person, sometimes the best thing is to show kindness at just the right moment where it surprises them and knocks them off guard. However, more often with a foolish person, the consequence has to be a “natural consequence,” that they don’t enjoy having to deal with.
Tomorrow I will write on an example of a husband dealing appropriately with a wife who is mean-spirited.