Thursday, September 27, 2018

Can I get a witness?

Who do you find it the hardest to speak to? What are the words you have the hardest time saying? What are the thoughts you need to share, but you feel you just aren't up to it, or that it is just too difficult to say them? We all have those moments when it is one of the most difficult things to just say what it is we need to say - to get out into the open what has been veiled behind other words for so long. How many of us really get to the point of sharing our full heart with those who need to hear the words contained within it? Counsel and guidance are there, but do we know how to share it, or when it is the right time to share them? From the looks of things, I'd say we don't do a very good job with this one, my friends!

It's true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say. It's obvious, isn't it, that the law code isn't primarily for people who live responsibly, but for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life, sex, truth, whatever! They are contemptuous of this great Message I've been put in charge of by this great God. (I Timothy 1:8-11)

There is indeed importance in tempering one's words, being aware of our audience, and of being sensitive to the timing of our message. Did you ever stop to consider the message you have to bring to those God has place you into relationship with? Yes, the most important of those messages is the truth that the only qualification for being called of God is to be a sinner - he never called the righteous, only those in need of a Savior. A condition all of us bears and one from which we all need deliverance. We are called to befriend sinners - not to be involved in their sin, but to be friends with sinners. The purpose is to bring love, mercy and grace into their lives. There will be other counsel and guidance that comes out of that relationship each of us has with Christ - and each other. There also needs to be the wisdom and guidance as to how to share it and when the time has arrived for it to be shared!

Hear this - we all have a message that needs to be heard. That message may be seen as moral guidance and counsel from time to time - especially when the heart gets entangled in things it ought not to be paying attention to in this life. This counsel and guidance actually needs to be given. Yet, not everyone is in the place of receiving such a message. When there is a basis of friendship, I am more apt to listen to the message - even when I am not really excited about hearing it! Moral guidance and counsel are not always spoken words. A modeled life is actually of more importance than the words we speak. There is nothing more disgraceful to the gospel message than a person who speaks about love, grace and mercy, but has no evidence of these in their lives. Jesus calls us to be examples of his work in us. In other words, we are to model to the world what he has accomplished in us by first loving us, extending his grace to us, and repeatedly bringing mercy into our lives.

The sinner knows nothing about the love of God, but can understand the loving actions of a brother or sister who comes alongside to walk with them during a time when they receive a serious diagnosis about their health. There is understanding that comes about the amazing grace of God when we should have been hurt by something someone did or said, but we press in deeper into the relationship despite the hurt. The eyes of a spiritually blind man can be opened wide to understanding grace as they take in the repeated times of forgiveness for the repeated times of failure in their lives. Sinners need saints - not to preach the message - but to live the message. The plan God had from the beginning was for each of us to be living examples of his love - displaying to each other the wonder of a loving, holy, and caring God. We cannot underestimate the value of being an example of moral guidance and wise counsel - actions truly do speak more than a thousand words!

There are times I drift into complaint about something that bothers me repeatedly - you might think of it as the reaction to that one person who just constantly rubs me the wrong way with their actions or words. The repeated wearing of their actions or words just leaves me circling the drain when it comes to going a 'little south' with my words about them! I would rather complain about them to another than deal with the wrong responses I have toward their actions. I must admit, it is like adding kerosene to an already glowing ember when I do! Rather than getting things right in my mind and heart, I allow those feelings to ignite words of complaint and those just create fuel for the fire! The wisest counsel my BFF often gives me is nothing more than silence when she hears these words emerge from my lips. Why is that wise counsel? She isn't adding fuel to the fire! She helps me put the fire out rather than adding fuel to it!

There aren't always times when we need to speak - sometimes we just need to be silent. Our silence speaks volumes and brings some of the wisest counsel to bear on a situation. At other times, we need those words that remind us to consider this action or the way we have been responding. Either way, the words we say, or the message we deliver in silence, speak volumes and help hearts to know when it is time to turn away from something toward a much more solid foundation! Just sayin!