There are many today that have fallen into sins trap, leading them to seek to hold everyone else to a high Biblical standard, why they are not being transformed by the very message they preach or that they are trying to send to others. This trap lies deep in our flesh and unfortunately it is one that is very easy to fall into, one that is normally hidden from our own perception. It is one that I wish I could say, “I have avoided altogether,” but unfortunately, I can’t. Sometimes it starts with good intentions as we as children of God seek to lead others to Christ or to correct those who are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Sometimes, it is a way to keep the spotlight off of ourselves and other times, we just become so prideful and arrogant that we begin to act as if we are one of the few that have already arrived at where we need to be, though we would never say it so clearly. So, I wanted to write this blog for my own reminder, to preach to myself, and to reach the many out there that often find they have been snagged by sins hook once again.
This blog will not be exhaustive by any means, as the problem I am addressing here can find itself deeply rooted in many areas. There are also some, that will not admit this is a trap at all for them and for those, we can only seek to pray much for them and to ask God to divinely intervene in their lives in order to draw them back to His feet. This blog then, will only first help those who God has already began to show them they have a problem, that they have a log that needs removed. It will begin to help us lift the covers a bit and get a good look at some things that are going on and ways in which we can seek and ask God to help us.
John Ortberg said, “There is a God and it is not me.” Only the one true God can change hearts and draw people to himself. We are the clay and He is the Potter and we as the clay cannot thwart His plans nor make another piece of clay into something else. However, we can be used by God as a tool, as a part of the body, to influence, and to be an example for others to follow. Yelling, complaining, grumbling, and acting like the sons of thunder, will not change hearts nor lead people to want to listen to what we have to say. Therefore, we must see that we are all imperfect and in need of much help from the Holy Spirt. We also have to see that the goal is not for people to become who we want them to be, but to become who God wants them to be. Seeing this alone is a great starting point.
Next, we have to do a true self-examination of ourselves with God’s divine help. When our example is out of line with the way we believe others should be, then we can rest assured that they will not receive the message we are trying to send. For example, a while back I had someone give me a book that they were hoping that I would read. And to be open with you, having now read it, it was something I needed. However, because their life was not in line with even the title of the book, what do you think I did with it? Yep, I said, “sure ok,” and stuck it on the furthest point of the bookshelf from my desk. The point is that when we are not living the way we think others should live, we are likely not going to make much headway changing them, not even by buying them that one book we all know they should read.
However, when we are broken and we see that we are in need of just as much grace, if not more than others, and then we seek to help them, then something divine takes place. Especially when that divine power, the power of the Holy Spirit, is constantly at work in our own lives and leading us to live a life that is pleasing to God. Then we can be used by God not only as an example, but as a brother and sister in Christ, to lead others to do the same. We don’t need to be perfect to have that impact, we just need to be transformed, honest about our own flaws, and to truly care about them with a genuine love (Romans 12:9). I would also add, that we should not believe that we have arrived yet at where we need to be and certainly not lead others to believe that we have. Being real, being honest, and admitting that we have flaws will help others see that we don’t believe in any way shape or form, that we are in a place to judge, but instead we are seeking to love them by pointing them in the right direction. In the same way we need to be open to receiving that same love, as others point us in the direction we need to go.
We must remember that in Luke 9:23 Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Notice here that the call is for us to ensure that as children of God we are carrying the cross daily. I don’t want to get into the exegesis of this passage too much here, but this is a reminder that we are called to bear the cross, not to try and place this device of torture on others. Not only that, but the cross also reminds us of our own need for Christ, because we are sinners in need of grace just as much as anyone else.
It is also vital to mention, that I agree with many when they say that truth and love are not separate from one another and that we cannot love others by ignoring sin. However, way too often we as Christians say that we are being loving by pointing others sin out, when really deep down our actions are rooted in anger, or resentment, or for many they just find pleasure in calling others out. Instead we must genuinely love them as noted in Romans 12:9 earlier. We need to ensure that we are truly looking out for our brother in love, not there like warden trying to keep them in their box. There are a ton of passages that come to mind here, but we all too often act more like traffic directors instead of people who truly care about our brothers and sisters. When we lack love and aren’t broken for the people with the people, again, we can be sure that they won’t receive the message we are trying to send.
As we look to Jesus’s ministry we often grab examples where He corrected His disciples, but we overlook the times where not only did He show compassion, but the fact that He spoke from a heart of love, a love that led Him to lay down His life for them. He cherished them, He adored them, and He walked daily with them, teaching them the ways of the Lord. He didn’t just show up when it was time to break out the paddle. This same love we are called to show for our brothers and sisters. In 1 John 3:16 we are told that we are to have them same love for our brothers and sisters in Christ as Christ did for us, by being willing to lay down our lives for them. Therefore, we must ask before we look to correct others, “would we truly be willing to lay down our lives for them?” Seriously, don’t just read right passed that. Would you today step in and take their place if a gunman came into a room, leaving your family behind? This will help us truly identify if our hearts are right or not in what we are doing. This is an examination that the Lord constantly reminds me that I need to do as well.
As for the things Jesus said to the Pharisees, remember those were the ones who were not His, the ones that were abusing His children and seeking to kill Him, so we need to be careful before hurling these at our brothers and sisters in Christ. Additionally, we need to look at the other parts of scripture to be well balanced and to make sure that we aren’t forgetting that we are even called to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44), so how much more love, should we be showing to our brothers and sisters in Christ?
In closing, if you have made these same mistakes as I have, don’t get stuck in the mud ruminating on them. Instead, go to the Lord and ask for His forgiveness and then seek His ways and His love moving forward. As I look back, I can say things like, “I wish I would have,” or “man if I would have only known this then,” but we need to remember that because we have a Savior we are forgiven in Christ, and that we are not perfected yet. Therefore, we can get up, dust ourselves off, and ask God to give us what we lack to begin today loving others and seeking to be an example that would point others to Him. This doesn’t mean that we blow it off, as repenting means to turn from, but we can instead praise God for His grace, and then seek to show that same grace to others and to be even more loving in our actions moving forward.