But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today”, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Today I had lunch with a friend. Before today, I would have called him only that, a friend. But after a hearty hickory-smoked burger from Big River Grille and a timely conversation, today Tony Souder became a good friend. I’ve always enjoyed my conversations with Tony. He is encouraging, perceptive, insightful, self-deprecating (in a good way), humble and wise.

Today Tony did the hard thing. He obeyed Scripture. He took the words of the author of Hebrews to heart and did the hard, but right thing. He exhorted me today. He challenged me about something he noticed about “me”. And he did it so that I might not be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

If you know me you know that I am not short of opinions. I can be frank, and sometimes brutally honest. I think critically, sometimes in a good way, but often in a harsh way, about almost everything. As I told Tony, I can relate to the Jesus who called the Pharisees a brood of vipers and said the hard word, but sometimes I struggle to speak truth lovingly. On top of this, I am terrible at asking probing questions. I generally observe something, and then base a response on my observations and assumptions. Sometimes they are on target, sometimes they aren’t, but my response always says something about the situation and me.

Today Tony cautioned me to be careful. He told me that he sees this in me sometimes, and while it isn’t always sinful to respond to a situation with critical discernment, there are times that such a response is rooted in pride and arrogance. I’ve been guilty of both.

There is more to say, but let me stop by saying I thank God for Tony Souder. I am thankful that he loved me enough to help keep my heart from being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Thank you, Tony.

Advertisements