Wednesday, November 14, 2012

If I Must Be Wounded Please Do So With Love

Can you believe she did that? Did she actually say those words? I just can't understand why she would do such a thing. I mean, she's a Christian. She goes to church. What in the world was she thinking? Well, I'm sure she wasn't thinking. That's the point. And another thing, what about the reflection she is sending to those of us who attend church with her?

Is this a conversation you have heard? Maybe you have even said these words. If we are honest, and lets be. We have all been there. On both sides of this conversation. But, boy does it hurt. Why are we so trigger happy? Forget about throwing stones. We enjoy pointing that finger and standing our ground. Sometimes all it takes is a look. If you have been on the other side of that condemning look you know all too well the pain it leaves behind.

But, what I have found is, the whole story isn't privy to our eyes. Most of the time what we see isn't really the whole picture. We are just seeing a small portion of what is really taking place. I mean after all, we aren't with this person we are judging twenty four hours a day. We don't see each step they take. Most of all, we don't see their heart. We may see an action of sin, but we are not aware of what the Lord is doing in the heart of this one we love.

Our hearts may be in the right place. Of course we want to see our fellow brothers and sisters soar with Christ. But our best course of action is prayer. It's fellowship. It's one on one time. It's giving and it's being totally trasnparent. It's opening ourselves up and being vulnerable. It's shedding the mask we ourselves wear and it's walking together with Christ.

We must remember, we all learn in different ways and each of us are unique. We may be able to be brutally honest with one and they walk away with a great gift, but we must truly know who we are speaking to. Sometimes our words can be taken wrong. No one wants to feel as though they are being watched all the time and if they slip up someone is going to be there to point it out to them.

God is constantly at work. He is about the heart of His children.

Sure, we may see an action and think the worst, but what does that say about us, really? If we are not careful we can cause our brother to stumble even more by judging him and stepping in to correct a behavior we think we see. But lets back up.

Our main focus should be our walk with Christ. We live our lives for Him and only Him. We allow the Holy Spirit to move through us. It is our mission to show the world Christ through our lives and how He is present in our life. It is not our job to point out every sin of another. We must be very cautious in wounding a brother. This must be done in love and it must and always be done when the Holy Spirit provokes us to move. It is He that gives us the words. It is He that sends the message and when He is at work, the message will be received in love. Without the Holy Spirit present these are just words.

Our words are powerful. Leaders lead by example. We are not to measure ourselves by the  standards of those around us. We are to measure ourselves against the Word of God.

This is what I have learned. We must be very careful when we step in and try to teach the child of another. There is going to be a day when our child is of that age. When our child stumbles. How would we want our child to be accepted? We must give those parents the respect they deserve and we too must give the Holy Spirit room to move in the heart of man. Just because one is a friend that doesn't mean we must go to them and tell them everything they are doing wrong. Let me say it this way. If you cannot encourage me and join me in joy when good things are taking place in my life, please do not try to correct me when I am doing wrong.

The simple fact is; we all want to be loved. We all want to be accepted. Loved beyond all measure. We want people in our corner cheering us on. We want people praying for us. We want to see them in our corner when we are trying. When we fail, when we stumble, we want them to be there in love. Most of the time we don't need our sin pointed out. We know it's there. But with the grace of God we will get to where He is calling. We will get past our struggle with prayer warriors on our side.

Words have the power to lead another person closer to Christ. They too have such power they can turn one away. Our words must meet and equal our actions. We cannot say one thing and do another. Our example is everything. If we are not careful we can come across as being very pious. If we are going to go to a brother who we see stumbling, may our hearts be in the right place with the Lord. May sin be moved out of our reach and may our life be a living testimony of what Christ is doing in our life.

We cannot go to another and try to correct their sinful behavior when sin is present in our life. Instead, let us share our own struggles. Let us be real and speak about the areas in our own life in which we battle each day and how the Lord is there to guide us and teach us. When we use our own lives for example it gives a greater picture of what Christ is doing and can do.

We are to love, to walk in grace, to cover others with mercy and to use our words carefully. In raising five children my perspective on many things has changed. I haven't wandered away from the Word of God. If anything my vision has been made more clear. I now see with more grace. I hold more compassion. Of course we want to see our children soar. We want to see all people soar for Christ, but this is a journey. Many times we must work though lots of muck and mire to get to a place where we are ready to accept all Christ has for us. I cannot expect a twenty year old to see through my forty five year old eyes. Goodness, at twenty the brain isn't even finished growing and as far as Christian growth? Everything in Christ's perfect timing.

What happens is, we are fixers. Believe me, I know this all too well. We think we know someone well enough and so we jump on and try to tell them all the wrongs they are doing and how they should be walking. Wowza! What a way to injure a brother. Where was I in cheer leading for him? Where was I when he really needed me and I was too busy with other things? If I'm not giving the example of Christian living for this person to see daily in my life, he isn't going to be too apt to really want to follow my teachings and wisdom. This is why we must be cautious.

The heart is tender. When the heart is hurting we need to give this person room to figure things out on their own. Our best gift to them? PRAYER and letting them know we are there for them at any time. There are times we just need to be an ear for this friend. We don't need to do all the talking. In love we need to be praying.

People who are bombarded with criticism don't accept that as love too often. It can be that we want someone to succeed so badly that we do everything we can to make them see. We can't make another person see anything. This is where the Holy Spirit comes in. I can tell you I have learned more from falling on my face than I have from the wisdom shared by others. There are times I must learn on my own. It's then I remember the words of others. When I fall, I don't want to see the disappoint on the faces of those I love. I want to see them encouraging me to get up again and try with a new eagerness. Not to please man, but to walk closer to the Lord.

It's such a fine line. Have you ever crossed it? Have you been injured by a brother? Was it you reaching out to another? When it is done in the right manner heaven gains glory. When we step in on our own without much prayer there is going to be loss. When those words are spoken to that already hurting heart, that heart is going to now be in despair. We must be willing to love beyond measure.

We shouldn't become angry when a brother doesn't listen to us. I have found with our own children that my husband and I have taught our children well. They would come home from church and say, "Hey mom, guess what I learned?" They would proceed to tell me in detail what they learned. I would stand before them in joy, but I would also know that I had taught my child that very thing. Why didn't they hear me? Why was this something new? The Holy Spirit was preparing their heart to hear it again. The Holy Spirit pricked when He knew they were ready to receive the message. It was then that the light bulb clicked on and they were taking that knowledge and in wisdom they now understood how to use it.

Too often we think it's our job to correct a friend. Too often we jump in and in our hurriedness we rip out the seams that are being sown already. Mending takes great time and a tender touch. Those threads can be weak at times, but God has a way of bringing it all together. He weaves a stitch that remains.

We are to pray for our brother and sister in Christ. We are to love as Christ would love us. Are there times when we should go to our brother? Of course, but there are also times when unless that person has come to us and asked for our opinion we must remain silent. Silent doesn't mean not doing anything. We still remain in prayer. Being on our knees for our brother is showing more love and kindness than speaking to him and pointing out his list of sins.

If we are Christians we know and understand we are sinners. We all struggle in some area in our lives. For this reason is why I say the more we share the more we grow. The more we are ready to be humble about our sin life the more we are going to give others room to be real and feel free to talk about their personal walk with Christ.

There are days I am flying high with Christ. I know at that moment I am right where He wants me to be. There are other days I totally push aside the Holy Spirit and I know I am. I am convicted not by the expectations of others, but by my Savior.

So, what I am trying to say here? May we pray for our brothers and sisters. May we give God room to move and stir their hearts. Might we be the examples others are in need of and may we be willing to share our own life as an example of what Christ can do.

Christ encourages. Satan discourages. We can do more for the kingdom of Christ through encouraging others than we can pointing out their every sin. We can reach out weekly and help one another be accountable. We can do a Bible study together. We can even send texts of encouragement.

When we don't see someone at church, may we not just assume they were not at church. May we not say, "Hey, where were you? I didn't see you in church". Instead when we do see friends at church, lets say, "I'm so glad your here with me today. God is so good. Lets see what He has for us." All we have to do is let others know we are thinking of them and we enjoy being with them. We must make an effort to reach out and encourage in every way possible before we send ourselves out to correct our brother.

One word of kindness does much more than a hundred words of discouragement. I'm just saying, lets walk in love and remember that hearts are tender. If a hurting heart is hurt even more, that damage might not be repairable. This is why our words must be spoken in love and caution, awaiting the Holy Spirit's instruction. Instead of having us go to our brother, He may be calling us to prayer.

If all a brother ever hears is, all he is doing wrong and never encouraged by all he does right, he isn't going to be very accepting of those words. After awhile he is going to all but stop coming around us. This isn't what we want. Lets learn together. In teaching young people I learned far more at times by listening to them. Just allowing them to open up and giving them a place of trust to talk. There are times all we need is one to step out and say, "Let me pray with you, brother".

"So lets stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall." Romans 14:13

"Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of His return is drawing near." Hebrews 10:24-25



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