I once heard a preacher give a word picture I will never forget. Apparently, when he was a boy, his most favorite thing in the world was playing marbles. Every afternoon after school, he and several friends would gather at a house near the schoolyard to play marbles. One afternoon, as he was nearing high school age, a group of slightly older boys passed by the group of marble players. As they tossed the football amongst themselves, one yelled out, “Hey! Want to play ball?” This preacher reports that he stood up from the marble-playing friends, walked away with his new football-playing friends, and he never looked back! Now, he said it would have been wrong for him to have walked by his old marble-playing friends each day and said, “What’s wrong with you guys? What don’t you grow up, get rid of those marbles and come play football with us more mature guys?” No, he would have never done that! Those other boys just weren’t as old as him. They had not outgrown the marble playing stage of their life. Did that make them inferior somehow? Did it make them “wrong”, immoral or ignorant? Of course not! It’s just that there was now a difference in maturity between this young man and his former marble-playing friends.
As Christians, we sometimes treat each other this way. We look at a fellow Believer and we want to say, “What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you see that what you’re doing (not doing) is wrong and immature? Grow up!” God has a very pointed and purposeful path and destination for every one of His children. He grows, polishes and convicts each of us at different times in different areas of our day-to-day walk with Him. Convictions in the Christian life are a funny thing. It is so easy to see the splinter in someone else’s eye and miss the plank in our own, isn’t it?
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
We must be so very careful not to quickly cast judgment on our brothers and sisters in Him. It can be a very painful, hurtful thing. It can, and has been, used to divide the Body of Christ time and time again. We sometimes use the excuse that we are trying to “speak the truth in love”, but are we really? Do you notice that you feel a bit angry or irritated when you consider this situation? Is it possible that the recipient may not be ready to hear it? Perhaps we should just pray more and wait for God to calm our spirit and do the convicting. Perhaps we need to do some serious self-examination in our own lives before we speak out and end up being offensive rather than helpful. Remember this scripture?
Proverbs 16:24 Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.
If you look around and observe the body of believers that you associate with, you will see diversity very clearly. We don’t all attend the same church. We aren’t all the same denomination. We aren’t all the same race. Some of us have physical challenges. Some of us have family issues. Some of us are older and some younger. Some of us have always lived in Jacksonville and some are just passing through! Some of us are new Believers and some have been saved for many, many years. However, we all want to reverence and serve the One True God! That, my family, is our common bond.
A couple of points to ponder:
(1) If you feel a need to speak the truth in love, do so only after MUCH prayer.
James 1:19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
(2) The Bible says there is wisdom in a receiving counsel. It might be a good idea to confidentially run it past a brother or sister in Christ before saying a word. However, don’t run it past all your friends first disguised as a “prayer request”! That is called gossiping!
Proverbs 15:22 Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellers they succeed.
(3) Remember that convictions are a result of God speaking directly to the heart and do not determine one’s salvation. Your friend may not EVER be convicted of something that God has heavily placed on your heart. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading.
(4) Correction is much more easily received when you are already in true, proven relationship with a person. The person you feel led to correct should already know that you love them and are interested in their spiritual well-being. Develop true relationship first before trying to bring personal correction.
Think back for a moment. I remember when I was not convicted about my music choices or the length of my skirt. It took me a long time to quit living so much under law and live more by grace. I still struggle in so many areas of life – don’t you?
A lady that I highly respected (now deceased) spoke to a group of us young women once about the need to always present ourselves as a lady. She felt that we should wear a dress or skirt at all times in order to present ourselves properly. This talk came at a critical time in my life when I was so thirsty to know more of my God and to do all He desired of me. I really, really struggled with this for a long time because I am truly a jeans-kind-of-gal and I always have been. Finally, one day the Lord used my husband to help me see His grace. Bob explained to me that this particular lady had 3 girls! That family went to ballet recitals, piano recitals and tea parties! We had 2 boys! We went camping, hiking, camping, canoeing, bleachers at ballgames, and did I mention camping! Bob suggested that it would not be modest or ladylike for me to wear dresses and skirts all the time! He also felt it would isolate me from the very people I needed to witness to. You see, I am the way I am because God knew I would have boys! I suspect that God will never convict me to wear dresses all the time! (Whew!!!)
So let’s not get off track and allow any defeat in the body of Christ. Let’s stay focused and allow God to do His work in our hearts and the hearts of our fellow believers as He reveals to each of us, in His time, all the mystery of His perfect will!
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
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